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Previously on… Father Death (11)

7

Stu parked Billy’s car at his house and replaced the keys in the visor. Like it had been there all night. Like he had walked over to Sidney’s. Or been dropped off. Whatever didn’t lead to forensics combing through his car. He packed anything incriminating into the dark duffle they had taken to Casey’s and slung it over his shoulder. Then he started the long walk home.

He needed to get home to feed someone.

In the back of the police car, Billy leaned his head against the window to cool his thoughts. The night had not gone as planned. He was supposed to play savior, not end up a suspect. But this was fine. He had prepared for this. He could use this later. When they inevitably decided that it was not him tonight, no one would suspect him later. His suspicion would become his own alibi. And Sidney’s guilt would be her undoing.

It’s fine, he told himself. It will be better this way. A perfect twist for a movie.

The thought soothed him. Yet he held himself rigid. He did not want to look too relaxed, like the guilty suspect who fell asleep in an interrogation room. He applied a layer of defeat and dejection. He furrowed his brow and flexed his features with worry.

With betrayal. Betrayal slipped on like an old glove.

The reporters had already descended by the time they pulled up to the small police station. The vultures circled to catch a glimpse of their media darling, their favorite victim: Sidney Prescott. The officers yanked Billy from the backseat and hustled him through the doors to avoid the cameras and microphones.

“No comment! No comment!” Dewey shouted over his shoulder.

“Just put him in my office,” Sheriff Burke barked. “His father is on the way down.”

Dewey snagged Billy’s elbow and dragged him past the open room of desks. He opened Sheriff Burke’s door and guided Billy through it. Once inside, he spun Billy by the wrists and unlocked his handcuffs. The metal clinked obnoxious as it released him. Billy brought his wrists in front of his body and massaged their freedom. Dewey gestured to a chair, and Billy lowered into it as Sheriff Burke planted himself behind his desk.

Through the large windows and open blinds, Billy could watch Dewey hustle back across the room to retrieve Sidney. He wrapped his coat around her shoulders and pressed his hands into her arms as he guided her to his desk. Billy’s nerves prickled at the sight, his blood pumping hotter in his veins. Sidney’s face was blotchy and red from crying, and she stared out blank in front of her, a distant look Billy was very familiar with from after her mother died.

Hank Loomis stormed into the station and stomped to Sheriff Burke’s office. He pounded a straight line, did not seem to falter, and sported a clear complexion. Perhaps he had not found the bottle yet tonight. Billy let out a tiny breath in relief.

“Sheriff, what’s this about?” Hank shouted, not even looking to Billy.

“Hank, calm down.” Sheriff Burke raised his hands.

“I’m not going to calm down until you tell me why you have my son in custody,” Hank yelled again, almost like he cared.

“Hank, sit down,” Sheriff Burke instructed.

Hank sighed hard and dropped into the chair beside Billy, finally granting him his eyes. Billy met his gaze briefly before turning his sight back to Sidney. Sheriff Burke stood and walked behind them to close his door.

“Sidney was attacked tonight, and Billy was at the scene. We need to ask him some questions, and you needed to be present for that,” Sheriff Burke said.

“Fine, ask away,” Hank said.

Sheriff Burke released the door and strode back across his office, thumbs hooked in his utility belt.

“Let me ask you this, what are you doing with a cellular phone, son?” he started.

Billy traced Sheriff Burke as he walked, propping stiff on his elbows against the chair. “Everybody’s got one, Sheriff. I didn’t make those phone calls. I swear.”

“Why don’t you check the phone bill, for Christ’s Sake? Call Vital Phone Comp. They’ve got a record of every number dialed.” Hank jabbed his hand at Sheriff Burke.

Sheriff Burke lowered to perch on the edge of his desk. “Thanks, Hank. We’re on top of it.” He turned to Billy. “What were you doing over Sidney’s house tonight?”

Billy leaned forward and planted his elbows on his knees. “Well, I wanted to see her. That’s all.”

“And yesterday? She said you climbed through her window last night too?”

“You went out last night?” Hank pivoted to Billy.

You would have noticed if you ever sobered up. Billy offered an uncomfortable smile. “I was watching TV. I got bored. I decided to go for a ride.”

“Did you happen to ride by Casey Becker’s house too?”

“No. No, I didn’t. Sheriff, I didn’t kill anybody.”

Billy wanted to smile. He wanted to peel back his sheepish little mask and show them his real face, what he was really capable of. Instead, he dropped his tone and his cheeks, adopted the severity they were expecting.

Sheriff Burke and Hank exchanged a look, and Billy cast his eyes to the floor. The grin was nearly impossible to contain. He flexed his jaw, hoping it would appear as nerves.

“We’re going to have to hold you, son, until we get those phone records,” Sheriff Burke said.

“That’s crazy. You know that?”

Billy gripped the back of the chair and turned back to find Sidney’s eyes staring at him. Her eyes were cold, drained of the warmth he usually found there. She may not have fucked him, but she had always regarded him with affection. Now, it was a sharply edged void. If his chest did not burn in rage, it might have hurt.

“This is ludicrous, Sheriff,” Hank exclaimed. “What happens now?”

“We’ll print and book him, put him in a holding cell while we wait for the records. You are welcome to wait at the station until we hear back.” Sheriff Burke waved through the window, gesturing for officers to come escort Billy.

Billy rose from the chair, sheepish and defensive. “Book me? Holding cell? I didn’t do anything!”

The officers moved past Hank and gathered Billy by the arms again. His skin throbbed tender from all their repeated violent gripping and tugging. They yanked him past his dad and out of the Sheriff’s office.

Billy pulled back toward his dad. “Tell them. Come on, Dad. Tell them.”

“He’s waiting for the lawyer, Billy,” the officer said in his face.

Billy wrenched toward Sidney, still seated at Dewey’s desk. Now, she would not look at him.

“Sidney,” he called. “Sidney, come on. You know me. Sidney, look at me. Come on!”

He begged as they dragged him across the room, shoving past Tatum, and through the door, his father trailing behind him. He could feel Sidney was crying. That reaction spurned him on, made him feel like he mattered again. It was more than the cold nothing she had just shot at him a moment ago. He could sustain himself on her tears.

Hank faded away into some waiting area as Billy was moved through printing and processing. He followed with compliancy, making sure to proclaim his innocence and confusion often.

“Hey, when do I get my phone call?” Billy asked.

The officer glowered at him. “Your dad is already here.”

“I still get one phone call, though, don’t I?”

The officer rolled his eyes. “Fine. But make it fast so I can get you into the holding cell.”

The officer shuffled Billy over to the phone and orientated it in his direction. Billy picked up the receiver and looked to the officer.

“Can I get some privacy?” he asked.

“No,” the officer snipped but turned his back.

Billy returned to the phone and dialed Stu’s number.

The house phone echoed through the cavernous Macher house. In the basement, Stu lifted his head and released a groan.

“You know, Neil,” he said. “Making a mess like this only hurts you.”

Stu slid the bucket across the floor and pursed his lips to avoid gagging. Then he bounded up the stairs, chasing the song of the phone. He burst out of the door and hurried into the kitchen, snagging the receiver on a finger.

“Hello?”

“Stu,” Billy hissed.

“Billy, man, are you home already?”

“No,” Billy snapped. “Call Sid.”

“What do you mean, ‘call Sid’? What are you talking about?”

“I’m at the police station. Call Sid.” Billy said the last two words slow and heavy.

Stu frowned and leaned against the counter for a moment. Then realization shattered across his brain.

“Got it,” Stu said.

The call died in his hand. He replaced the receiver, retrieved the voice changer, then picked up the phone again. He dialed Tatum’s number.

“Hello, Riley residence,” Mrs. Riley sang into the phone.

“Hello, may I please talk to Sidney?” Stu said.

“Yes, please hold on.” Mrs. Riley set the phone aside, and Stu waited.

“Hello?” Sidney answered.

“Hello, Sidney.” Stu wished he could see her face, like Casey’s through the window, but he could imagine it. It was the same face she wore when he burst out of the closet.

“No!” Sidney cried.

“Poor Billy boyfriend,” Stu mocked. “An innocent man doesn’t stand a chance with you.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Looks like you fingered the wrong guy. Again!” Stu hissed.

“Who are you?”

Stu could hear rustling, commotion, and other voices behind Sidney.

“You’ll find out soon enough. I promise.”

Stu smiled as he replaced the phone in its cradle. Then he sighed hard before gathering cleaning supplies and returning to the basement.

Continued on… Father Death (13)

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Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (10)

6

“If it were any other day, I would have totally skipped,” Stu said, raising his elbows high to rub his eyes. “But if I did, I would have missed this circus!” He launched his arms out to gesture at the accumulating news vans and police cars.

“Yeah, didn’t you hear there was a double homicide last night?” Billy replied with a low tone but also a small smirk.

Stu planted a finger on his chin. “You know, I had no idea until this morning.” He burst into giggles, and Billy could not help but chuckle along. “Why are the cops here, though?”

“They’re going to start interrogating people.”

“I better get myself a Jolt or something. I didn’t sneak out of Tatum’s until late last night. She could not get enough!” Stu interlaced his fingers and stretched his arms high over his head. “Then we had that early business this morning.”

Billy rolled his eyes and said nothing, folding his arms across his chest and watching the news reporters scurry along the lawn.

“How did things go with Sid last night?” Stu asked.

Billy cut him a look, and Stu shrank back. “They didn’t.”

“Really? She still isn’t giving anything up? That girl is frozen.”

Billy glared across the campus. “How’s her dad?”

“Uncomfortable.” Stu laughed. “But he’s fine. My parents aren’t due back until next week. If they even come home then.”

“Plenty of time. We let them spin on this first.”

Stu nodded and posted himself beside Billy to watch the show unfold. “Holy shit, man. Is that Gale Weathers?” Stu pointed across the lawn to a large media van branded Top Story.

“Yeah, it is. Sid hates that bitch.” Billy smirked.

“What the fuck is that suit? She looks like a lime.”

Billy scoffed. “What, are you a fashion consultant now?”

“No, but I am seriously blind looking at that shit. Look at it, man!” Stu gestured at Gale again, and Billy could only laugh.

“I can’t wait to watch Sid freak out.”

“I’m sure you’ll get your show.”

“All of this is a show.”

The bell sang out above their heads, and they moved to file into the entrance. The students merged together into one breathing mass, flowing through the door, and filling the hall. The air was saturated with the excited chatter. The words murder and death echoed on repeat. Billy and Stu drank it in as they made it to their lockers to retrieve no books.

Books and classes did not matter today.

Billy strove to keep his expression neutral. He feigned a passing ignorant curiosity. Yet the entire scene captivated him. He had done this, created this chaos and this frenzy. And that power surged through him under his façade. He felt like he was wearing the Father Death mask right now as he walked the halls, hiding his true face under the blank one he presented.

Stu chased behind Billy, consistently glancing over to gauge his temperament. Waves of thrill surged over him, erupting in giggles or a leap in his step. Then he fell into step beside Billy again. At the end of the hall, he saw Tatum, nodded to Billy, and skipped off to meet her.

The bell rang, and the gossip migrated into the classrooms.

Billy slouched in his desk as Mrs. Hammond droned on at the blackboard. His mind flitted between images of Maureen, flashes of Casey and Steve, the feel of Sidney’s skin, walking home alone in the dark last night. His heart rode a rollercoaster in his chest as he wagged his pencil in his grip and watched it tap the desk.

The classroom door opened again, as it had been every fifteen or so minutes. A student stepped in and handed Mrs. Hammond a piece of paper. Mrs. Hammond unfolded the hall pass then cast her eyes to Billy.

“Billy Loomis,” she recited. “It is your turn. Head down to Principal Himbry’s office.”

Billy nodded and held his reaction, his inappropriate excitement, as he slid from the chair to follow the student courier. He shoved his hands deep into his jeans pockets and slunk down the hallway, attempting to look casually nervous.

He could not wait to play with the inept police.

Principal Himbry opened his office door to release the previous student, whom Billy did not register or recognize. He was fixated on what remained in the room. Behind Principal Himbry, he could see Sheriff Burke lounging in a chair and Deputy Dewey posted up against a wall. Potentially the least threatening law enforcement he could imagine.

“Billy, come in, please,” Principal Himbry said, stepping aside and gesturing Billy through the door.

Billy slid past Principal Himbry and dropped into the empty chair. He made sure to flex the muscles down his arm to look tense and make sitting appear uncomfortable. He moved his eyes around between the men to look as if he was uneasy surrounded by so much authority.

“What’s your name, kid?” Sheriff Burke asked.

Billy bristled at the word but held fast. “Billy Loomis.”

Dewey looked down at a clipboard and scribbled with his pen.

“The police are going to ask you a few questions,” Principal Himbry said. “Standard procedure. They will be interviewing the student body.”

Billy nodded, wringing his hands.

“How are you and your father, Billy, since Debbie left?” Principal Himbry asked.

Billy’s eyes flared at Principal Himbry before he could catch them. The familiarity of his mother’s name in Principal Himbry’s mouth ignited him. He felt the heat spread under his skin as sweat prickled over him. He seized his control and poured meagerness over his expression.

“Fine, we’re fine, sir.” He threw in the sir even though the word nauseated him.

“Did you know Steven Orth?” Sheriff Burke began.

“The football player?” Billy asked. “Yeah, I mean, we had gym together, but I didn’t really know him.”

“What about Casey Becker?”

“I know she was his girlfriend.”

“But you didn’t have any kind of relationship with either of them?” Sheriff Burke pressed.

“No,” Billy said firmly. “Nothing outside of class.”

“Where were you last night?”

“At home, watching TV.”

“Can anyone confirm that?” Dewey asked, eager to speak, lifting his pen.

Billy turned to look to him. “Yeah, my dad was home after work.”

“Do you like to hunt?” Sheriff Burke redirected.

Billy shrugged and turned down his lips. “Never been.”

The three men exchanged glances, and Sheriff Burke nodded.

“Okay.” Principal Himbry clapped. “Thanks for your time, Billy.”

Billy gave a curt nod before pressing up from the chair and fleeing the office. The next student was already queued up behind him. When she walked past him and he heard the door close, a smile split across Billy’s face.

“Stuart,” Mrs. Curtis called from behind her desk. “Please go down to Principal Himbry’s office.”

“What did I do now?” Stu asked, tossing up his hands and taking his legs down off his desk.

“It is your turn for questioning,” she answered.

“Oh.” Stu chuckled, and a giggle rippled through the class.

Stu hopped up on his feet and strutted from the classroom. He snatched the pass from Mrs. Curtis on a mocking bow and followed his escort down to the office. When Principal Himbry held the door open for him, he strode casually to the chair and dropped himself into it. Stu immediately turned to Dewey and slapped the armrests.

“Dewey!” Stu exclaimed. “Look at you, all gussied up.”

Dewey sighed hard and rolled his eyes, shifting side to side, uncomfortable. “Deputy Riley, Stu.”

“Oh, right, Dewey. Dewey, sir,” Stu said. “Keep it professional.”

“Stuart,” Principal Himbry said. “The police need to ask you some questions. The same questions they are asking everyone. Please take them seriously.”

Stu pursed his face and nodded. Sheriff Burke released a huge exhale then leaned forward around his gut. He lowered his small notebook, planted his elbows on his knees, and steepled his fingers in front of him.

“What’s your name?” Dewey asked, pen at the ready.

“You know my name, man,” Stu answered.

“Your full name,” Sheriff Burke pressed.

“Stuart Macher.”

“Did you know Steven Orth?” Sheriff Burke asked.

“The big linebacker guy?” Stu said, holding his hands out. “You couldn’t miss him.”

“Yes, but did you know him?”

“Nah, not really. We didn’t exactly run in the same circles.” Stu circled his fingers beside his face.

“What about Casey Becker?”

“I know who she is.” Stu flinched and grimaced. “Was? But I didn’t know her know her. I don’t even know if we even had a class together.”

“Do you like to hunt?”

Stu pressed his hand to his chest. “Sheriff, I’m an animal lover. Unless, of course, it’s a Big Mac.” Stu stuck out his tongue and laughed at his own joke.

Dewey placed his pen down and closed his eyes. Sheriff Burke clasped his hands together and exhaled again.

“You can get out, Stuart,” Principal Himbry said.

Stu jumped up and walked to the door. “Um, good luck?” he near laughed before skipping down the hall.

The lunch bell finally rang and released the classes from the stifled building. The conversations buzzing through the halls had not changed. The vocabulary was no different. The police interviews only served to fuel speculation and intrigue. Whispers of murder had escalated and crescendoed into shouts of MURDER. The word took on a life of its own, stalking through its anxious and happy hosts, happy to pass it between them.

Billy slunk up behind Sidney as she exchanged books in her locker and rooted around for her lunch. He slid his hands along her light blue shirt above her jeans until he found her waist. She startled back into him, gasping in a small cry before she recognized him. Then her smile broke wide across her cheeks, and she leaned into him. He slithered his arms the rest of the way around her.

“You’re so jumpy,” Billy said against Sidney’s ear as he cradled her.

“You keep sneaking up on me.”

Billy pressed his lips into Sidney’s neck until he could feel her pulse thump soft against his skin. He lost himself in its hypnotic and steady throb. And all the thoughts of making it stop. Sidney guided him back and seated her locker door.

“Come on,” she said, extending her hand. “They’ll be waiting for us at the fountain.”

Billy took her hand and searched for her pulse there. He knew it thumped in her wrist, but there was no way to grip her casually that way. Instead, he concentrated on the warmth of her flesh and the idea of what it would be like for it to go cold. After she finally wanted him. After he was done with her.

The California sun sliced through the day from high in the clear sky as Sidney led Billy across the courtyard. The water splashing in the fountain glistened in the garish light. Billy squinted against it, lifting his free hand to shield his eyes. Tatum and Stu already perched on the cement lining the water, and Randy approached them from the side in a glowing green shirt, lowering himself beside Tatum as Sidney and Billy arrived.

Billy planted himself on the edge of the long bench. He maneuvered Sidney between his legs as he sat then folded back to bask in the sun like a lizard. The warmth of the concrete radiated up through his clothes as the sun beat down on him. Tatum chattered at Sidney, as she always did, but Billy did not hear her. He heard Casey screaming when she first saw his ghost face through the window. He heard Steve’s muffled cries against the bloody tape. He heard Maureen asking why.

“Saw your brother today,” Randy said to Tatum, slipping a grape into his mouth.

“Yeah, we all saw Deputy Dewey,” Stu commented.

“He was all nervous this morning,” Tatum said.

“Yeah, he looked a little flustered,” Sidney said, reclining into Billy’s legs.

“What kind of questions did they ask you, Sid?” Tatum asked.

“They asked me if I knew Casey,” Sidney answered.

“They asked me too,” Tatum said.

“Hey, did they ask if you liked to hunt?” Stu leaned between the girls and looked down at Billy.

“Yeah, they did,” Billy confirmed. “Did they ask you?”

“Why would they ask if you liked to hunt?” Tatum interrupted.

“Cause their bodies were gutted,” Randy said.

At Randy’s words, Billy raised up on an elbow to cast his eyes over the group at him. “Thank you, Randy,” he said in a flat voice.

“They didn’t ask me if I liked to hunt.” Tatum held her arms out beside her.

“Cause there is no way a girl could’ve killed them,” Stu answered, quick and casual.

Tatum tipped her head at him. “That is so sexist. The killer could easily be a female, Basic Extinct.”

“That was an ice pick, not exactly the same thing,” Randy clarified, squinting in the sun.

An ice pick would not have been nearly as much fun, Billy thought as he kept his face slack.

“Yeah, Casey and Steve were completely hollowed out.” Stu suppressed the flash of Casey’s intestines tumbling at his feet. “And the fact is it takes a man to do something like that.” It took me, he thought.

“Or a man’s mentality,” Tatum mocked.

“How do you…gut someone?” Sidney’s voice joined the conversation, soft and hesitant.

The group halted, turning all eyes to Sidney. The moment thickened with the past, the unspoken past they all knew. It hung over them, casting shadows even in the glaring sunlight.

“You take a knife, and you slit them from groin to sternum.” Stu’s heavy and heartless words hit Sidney in the face, and her expression contorted.

Billy leaned forward to glower at Stu. “Hey, it’s called tact, you fuckrag.” Sidney needed to see him defending her.

Sidney winced then redirected. “Hey Stu, didn’t you used to date Casey?”

“Yeah, for like two seconds.” Stu’s lips curled in an awkward smile.

Randy leaned into Tatum’s ear quickly. “Before she dumped him for Steve.”

Tatum’s nose wrinkled as she frowned at Stu. “I thought you dumped her for me.”

“I did; he’s full of shit.” Stu wrapped himself around Tatum and glared at Randy.

“And are the police aware you dated the victim?” Randy pressed.

“What are you trying to say—that I killed her?”

“It would sure improve your high school ‘Q.’” Randy shrugged.

Tatum cuddled into Stu. “Stu was with me last night.”

“Yeah, I was.”

“Was that before or after he sliced and diced?” Randy bit and tore at the words.

Sidney flinched as Randy spoke, retracting from Billy, curling into herself.

“Fuck you, nut case!” Tatum snapped. “Where were you last night?”

“Working. Thank you.”

“Oh, at the video store? I thought they fired your sorry ass.” Tatum opened her eyes wide to accentuate her point.

“Twice.” Randy popped a grape in his mouth then crushed it between his teeth.

Stu adopted an uncharacteristically serious expression. He dug deep to muster the resolve. “I didn’t kill anybody.”

“Nobody said you did.” Billy tilted his head for emphasis.

“Thanks, buddy.”

“Besides, it takes a man to do a thing like that,” Randy mocked.

“I’m gonna gut your ass in a second, kid,” Stu said.

Randy rose and bowed toward Stu. “Did you really put her liver in the mailbox? Cause I heard that they found her liver in the mailbox next to her spleen and pancreas,” he said in a Jerry Lewis impersonation.

Sidney writhed at each word. She stiffened, her face wrinkled, then gathered up her backpack. Billy observed her discomfort and made sure to mirror her disgust. He made the right facial expressions, exhibited the right tense and rounded body language.

“Randy, you goon fuck, I’m trying to eat here.” Tatum threw a grape at Randy.

Randy smirked as he leaned over Tatum to fetch another grape from the open bag. Sidney pressed her lips to Billy’s and got up to walk away.

“She’s getting mad, alright?” Stu joked. “You better liver alone. Liver alone!”

Stu cackled at himself, extending his tongue. Billy glared over at him and shifted into the space Sidney vacated to sit forward. He watched her walk away. Leaving, always leaving him. Billy reached over and smacked Stu’s arm.

“Liv—Ow! Liver. Liver. It was a joke!” Stu protested.

“You can’t joke like that with Sid,” Tatum snapped. She shoved at Stu and looked after Sid.

“Come on, that was funny.” Stu looked to Randy and Billy for confirmation.

“Don’t be stupid,” Billy said what he was supposed to say, what he needed Tatum to repeat to Sidney. “Her mom, man.”

“That was a year ago.” Stu threw up a hand. “It has nothing to do with this.”

“Yeah, but Gale Weathers is buzzing around,” Randy said. “Did you see her?”

“How could you miss her in that hideous suit?” Stu sniped.

“It all feels exactly the same.” Tatum’s voice fell and took the conversation with it.

“Lunch is over anyway,” Billy said as he abandoned the warm concrete and headed back toward the school.

Stu skipped across the asphalt and snagged Billy around the neck. Billy allowed Stu to drag him down, his boots slapping the parking lot in staggered steps. Hunched over, the grin rippled unmitigated over his cheeks until he sluffed Stu’s arm from his shoulder and stood upright again.

“What a fucking show today, man!” Stu seized Billy’s shoulders from behind and gave them a small shake.

“Get a hold of yourself before you put on a show.” Billy shrugged Stu off and regarded him from the side of his eyes.

“I know. I know.” Stu took a dramatic inhale, running his hands up along his torso. “It’s just so exciting. It’s all anyone could talk about today. Us, man.” Stu tapped Billy’s arm. “We did that.”

Billy smirked at Stu as he lowered himself into the car. Stu rounded the passenger’s side of the car and joined him.

“So,” Stu asked as Billy drove from the parking lot. “What are we doing tonight?”

“I want to fuck with Sidney,” Billy replied, his eyes locked on the road.

“Is it time to off her?” Stu lounged against his window and extended his long limbs toward the floorboards.

“No, not yet. Just need to scare her.”

“Maybe getting her blood pumping will thaw her out.”

Billy snapped narrow eyes over to Stu. Stu lifted his hands in surrender.

“I’m just saying, man,” Stu said. “Scary movies work on Tatum every time.”

Billy’s rage rippled through the air, and Stu pursed his lips. He laced his long fingers over one knee and turned his gaze to the road ahead.

“How much do you want to scare her?” Stu finally asked when Billy’s breathing had settled. “Like, do you want her to just scream or bleed a little?”

“We’ll see what you can pull off while I’m on the phone.” The cruel grin returned to Billy’s cheeks. “Because I need to be there to save her at the end.”

Stu smiled deliriously and nodded.

“Just don’t kill her.” Billy’s words were sharp, and he shot another glance at Stu.

“All right, all right, man. I get it.” Stu lifted his hands again. “I can follow directions.

Billy parked the car in the same spot on Sidney’s street. He focused on diving into the memory of the successful night with Maureen, damming up the swelling thoughts of trudging back to this spot after Sidney had rejected him the previous night. He could retrace his steps to the large house tonight and divert her along his maze as he wanted. Get her to scream like he wanted.

“OK, I’ll call her and get her agitated,” Billy started.

“That should take no effort. That girl lives agitated.”

Billy narrowed his eyes at Stu. “Get into the house and chase her around. You can wound her but nothing serious.” Billy pointed with his finger. “Really scare the shit out of her, though. She needs to know this is real.”

“You sure you don’t want to chase her around?”

Billy raised his eyebrow. He wanted to chase her. He wanted to wound her. He wanted to do all of it by himself, just his way. Yet he needed to play partner with Stu. He needed to give him a role. He needed to have him in place later. And he had so many things he needed to say to Sidney.

“I’ll get her later.” A cruel smirk wound Billy’s lips. “I’ll call from the trees then show up at the right time.”

Stu nodded before tugging the robe over his head then sliding the mask over his face. When he turned the ghastly visage to Billy, he was a new and anonymous figure.

The sun had fled from the sky behind the distant hills. Billy stuffed the keys under the visor, and they exited the car, pressing their doors closed quietly. They moved through the fresh night, hiding from the bright lights and white picket fence of the Prescott house, making for the trees. Billy found a trunk to befriend, not unlike Stu in Casey’s backyard, as Stu crept toward the side of the house.

Billy extracted the phone and voice changer from his pockets. He dialed Sidney’s number from memory and pressed Call.

“Tatum, just get in the car,” Sidney answered.

Billy bristled at hearing Tatum’s name. Tatum, in the way as usual.

“Hello, Sidney.” He smiled in his anonymity, in the game.

“Uh…Hi, who is this?” Sidney’s tone lost the irritated, coating instead in confusion.

“You tell me.” Billy already enjoyed not saying what he was supposed to, giving himself new lines.

“Well, I—I have no idea.”

“Scary night, isn’t it? With all the murders and all, it’s like just out of a horror movie or something.” The words scary and horror tingled on his tongue, crackled through the phone.

“Randy, you gave yourself away. Are you calling from work? Cause if you are, Tatum is on the way over.” Sidney laughed.

Billy watched a light ignite in the house.

Fucking Randy. You’d like it to be Randy. The edges of Billy’s vision brewed red.

“Do you like scary movies, Sidney?” Billy asked.

“I like that thing you’re doing with your voice, Randy. It’s sexy.” Sidney’s voice bounced playful.

You would flirt with him. “What’s your favorite scary movie, Sidney?”

“You know I don’t watch that shit.”

I know you don’t do anything. “Why not? Too scared?”

Billy glanced over to Stu, hunkered down against the side of the house, a black blob against the siding. He twitched in his boredom, wobbling his knife in front of his face in the shadows.

“No, no,” Sidney said. “What’s the point? They are all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl that can’t act when she is running up the steps when she should be going out the front door. It’s insulting.”

“Are you alone in the house?”

“Randy, that’s so unoriginal. I’m so disappointed in you.”

Fuck Randy! “Maybe because I’m not Randy.” Anger leaked into Billy’s voice, even through the voice changer.

In the lighted window facing the trees, Sidney appeared leaning on the back of the couch. She hesitated there until Billy’s voice broke across her face. Then she pushed back and turned into the house.

“So, who are you?”

“The question isn’t who am I? The question is, where am I?”

“S—So where are you?

“Your front porch.” Billy’s heart accelerated in his chest. Come out and see me. Come out and play, he beckoned her.

Sidney paused for a long time. Then the lights in the front of the house came on.

“Why would you be calling from my front porch?” Sidney asked, her figure appearing in the front windows.

“That’s the original part.”

“Oh yeah, I call you a bluff.”

Stu’s head snapped toward the front door. He shimmied up the siding and slunk deeper into the shadows. Sidney opened the door and stepped through onto the porch, swinging her head from side to side around the yard. Billy watched her in quiet fascination, waiting. Her fearlessness excited him. No tears like Casey. Sidney stood exposed and confrontational, alone on the porch.

“So, where are you?” Sidney asked.

Billy near-choked on the response yet quickly righted himself. “Right here.” He was right there, looking right at her.

Sidney lowered the phone to her side and strode along the porch boards, eyes slicing around the night. As she turned her back, Stu crept along the railing of the porch. He moved slow and silent, watching the back of her head. When she placed her hands on the far railing to look over, he sprinted up the steps and in through the front door.

Stu’s heart hammered in his chest as he cleared the threshold. The mask felt suffocating in all his suppressed panting. Despite the tingling in his hands, he moved directly into the closet and tucked himself inside.

Outside, Billy released a relieved breath at seeing Stu make it. Sidney turned back from the railing and brought the phone up to her ear.

“Can you see me now?” she asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“Ah.” Sidney planted her finger in her nose and whirled from side to side.

Billy wrinkled his face, recoiling from the phone as he watched her.

“What am I doing? Huh? Huh? What am I doing? Hello?” she called loudly. She paused a beat, waiting for a reply, then burst into a smile. “Nice try, Randy. Tell Tatum to hurry up, okay? Bye now.”

Say Randy one more time! “If you hang up on me, you’ll die just like your mother. Do you want to die, Sidney? Your mother sure didn’t.”

A wave of relief rolled over Billy. He had been waiting to say those words to Sidney for months. He wished he was close enough to see her face.

“Fuck you, you cretin,” Sidney snapped.

The call died in Billy’s hand, but he could only smile down, pleased at the phone. He watched Sidney flee into the house and slipped the phone into his pocket. He meandered toward the back, moving to climb the same route he had the night before.

From inside the dark and crowded closet, Stu heard the front door close. His cue. Throbbing with nervous energy again, he pushed the door open and raised his knife high. Even through the shrouded eyeholes of the mask, Stu could vividly make out the terror twisting Sidney’s face. The thrill nearly nauseated him. He fought back the rising thoughts of Casey from blurring with the moment and lunged forward.

Sidney ducked immediately, disappearing from beneath his blow. He settled for knocking her down from her back. She sprawled to the hardwood yet struck out with her legs, taking him down in a clumsy heap. He was only relieved that Billy was not inside to witness this display. He grappled on top of Sidney, lifting the blade, yet she clung maddeningly to his wrist.

Frustrated, he seized a handful of her hair in his glove and lifted her head. Then he slammed it down against the wood floor. Her hand shot up to cradle her temple, and he watched her eyes swim. In that temporary daze, he caressed her neck with the blade then heaved it above his head with both hands. Sidney’s eyes went wild.

“No!” she cried, kicking him in the chest.

Stu flew backward, tumbling to the hardwood. The floor collided hard with his back and elbows. As he scrambled from his back, Sidney shot to the door and fought with the chain she had secured. Stu stabbed at her, yet his blade found only door. He released a disgruntled sigh as he wrenched the knife free. Sidney was already fleeing up the stairs.

What a cliché, Stu thought as he chased after her. Billy would never forgive him if he gave up here.

Stu jogged up the stairs after Sidney, swinging the knife at his side and repeating just don’t kill her in his mind. Sidney darted down the hallway and into her room, slamming the door in Stu’s face. Stu made the proper show of fighting the door until he broke it open. The door slammed into another door and left him trapped and struggling in the hall.

Stu smashed the doors together, slashing his knife through the bedroom air and attempting to shove himself through the opening. Then once Sidney sat at her computer screen, he retreated and hurried down the hall and out of the house.

Crouched outside Sidney’s window like the previous night, Billy listened to the commotion. Once he heard Stu stop fighting the doors, he thrust himself through Sidney’s window.

“Billy!” Sidney cried.

“The door’s locked,” Billy said as he climbed into the room. “I heard screaming. You alright?”

Sidney gathered Billy into her shaking arms, clinging to him. “The killer is here. He’s in the house. He’s in the house. He’s going to kill me.” Her words mumbled into his collar.

Billy wrapped his arms around her, enjoyed her trembling against him. He had caused this. He had this control.

“He’s gone,” Billy soothed. “He’s gone. It’s alright.”

The cell phone tumbled from Billy’s pocket and bounced beside his shoe. Shit, Billy thought. Shit shit shit. Sidney glanced down at the device and drew away from Billy. Her eyes narrowed with skepticism. She looked at him with that same look, that same face Maureen had before he had plunged the knife into her.

“What?” Billy asked. Shit. Play dumb, just play dumb. “Sid, What?”

Billy reached for her, but Sidney sprinted from the room and down the stairs. The rejection blistered along the back of Billy’s throat again.

“Whoa! Whoa!” he called after her. “Wait, wait, wait! Sid, wait!”

His words meant nothing to her. She kept running. He trailed her to the hallway and leaned down over the railing.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! What’s going on?” he called. “Sidney, come back. Sidney!”

Sidney’s scream climbed the stairs, followed by another equally high scream.

Fuck, Billy thought.

He remained slumped over the railing, wearing the confused mask of an innocent man. The voice changer was in the trees for Stu to fetch. If Stu was any good at following directions, as he claimed to be, he would be pocketing that and driving Billy’s car far out of sight right now. Billy pushed a breath through his lips and conjured the trust.

A stampede of footsteps came barreling through Sidney’s front door then pounding up the steps. Dewey led the charge with his pistol gripped between clenched hands, his eyes wide above his thin mustache. Billy fought the urge to roll his eyes at the sight of him. He easily would be in the first round of deaths in any good scary movie.

“Hands where I can see them, Loomis,” Dewey said, leveling his gun on Billy.

Billy lifted his palms gingerly. “I didn’t do anything, Dewey.”

“Deputy Riley!” Dewey huffed. “Billy Loomis, you’re under arrest. You’re coming with us.”

Two officers swarmed from behind Dewey and seized Billy by the arms. They dragged him down the stairs, awkward and staggering. Billy followed, docile and compliant, keeping his mask of confusion and innocence firmly seated. He focused on seeking out Sidney.

The officers wrestled Billy across the lawn. He struggled against them only to protest his innocence and look for Sidney. He applied just the right amount of outrage and bewilderment. They pushed him down the sidewalk cutting through the manicured lawn and past the picket fence. Then they slammed him down on the hood of a police cruiser.

“All right, hold your hands together,” one officer instructed, tugging on Billy’s wrists.

“Do you wish to give up your right to remain silent?” Dewey recited.

“I didn’t do anything,” Billy repeated.

“Do you wish to give up your right to speak to an attorney and have them present during questioning?” Dewey continued.

The officers hauled Billy up from the hood, hands cuffed behind his back. They moved to haul him away.

“Ask her. She’ll tell you.” Billy looked again for Sidney. He could feel her nearby.

Sheriff Burke pulled up in his car. Dewey approached the car, anxious to deliver news.

“What do we have, Dewey?” Sheriff Burke asked.

“I caught him, Sheriff.” Dewey beamed.

“Who is that?” Sheriff Burke squinted down at Billy.

“Billy Loomis.”

Sheriff Burke stretched out of his car as Billy struggled toward him. He pulled against the officers, attempting to shrug them off.

“Sheriff, Sheriff, call these guys off,” Billy begged, the words sour in his mouth.

Sheriff Burke granted Billy a disdainful glance. Then the officers shoved him in the backseat of a car.

“I didn’t do it,” Billy continued. “Sheriff, wait. Listen, call my dad. Please, call him. He’ll tell you. Call him. Sidney!” The officers shut the door in Billy’s face. “Sidney!” he called through the glass. “Sid!”

Behind Billy’s car, Stu watched the flashing lights in Sidney’s yard. He held the ghost mask in his long fingers, fiddling with the plastic edge of the face.

“Fuck,” he breathed.

He listened to Billy’s cries encased by the police car until they drove him away. Then he slid into the driver’s seat. He chucked the voice changer into the passenger’s seat and rested his head against the steering wheel. He let out a breath then smacked his forehead against the wheel. Then harder. When he hit hard enough to feel a slight ringing in his ears, he dropped the keys from the visor, started the car, and drove off into the night.

Continued on…. Father Death (12)

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Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (9)

5

“Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit,” Stu breathed from the passenger’s seat like a mantra.

“Wooooo!” Billy called out the open window. The crisp air whipped through his air and made the night feel more real.

Stu planted both palms on the dashboard and turned a dazed expression to Billy. The light from the road carved his face into grave shadows.

“We did it,” Stu said. “We fucking did, man!”

“Again,” Billy corrected. “We fucking did it again.”

The tires spirited them away into the night, away from their crime. Stu’s nausea sank back into memory behind them, pooled around Casey’s guts in the grass. Billy drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, unable to temper his elation.

“Where to now?” Stu asked.

“Alibis. Getting you to Tatum.”

Stu’s face fell before he plastered the smile back in its place. “That’s right. Where are you going?”

“I’m going to swing by Sid’s house.”

“She know you’re coming?”

“Nope.”

“Her pops in town?”

Billy reached over and slapped Stu in the arm. “You know he is. It’s kind of important to this whole thing that he is right now but won’t be in a couple days.”

“Right, right.” Stu glowered and rubbed his arm, sinking down into his seat.

“What are you going to tell Tatum about where you were before this?”

Stu slipped his hand under his seat and extracted a couple VHS tapes. “Just picking up some scary movies to watch. Lifted these out of Randy’s car.”

“Nice.” Billy nodded in approval, and Stu’s smile spread.

Billy rolled to a stop outside Tatum’s house. Stu glanced to the lighted wrap-around porch then back to Billy.

“See you tomorrow, man.” Stu beamed and then hopped from the car.

Stu bounced up the sidewalk in leaping steps as Billy pulled away from the curb. Billy saw Tatum open the door and wrap her arms around Stu before he drove off down the street.

Billy relaxed into the driver’s seat, leaning back into the upholstery and draping his wrist over the top of the steering wheel. Stu had executed his plan without bungling it. Now, Stu was a fully vested participant, more than an accomplice, no way out anymore. He was following the script, just like Billy needed him to.

Billy tilted his head toward the window and let the breeze slip through his hair and massage his thoughts. As he pointed the car toward Sidney’s house, his mind meandered back to that night. One foot of his consciousness toed into that memory at the sight of Sidney, at the right glance from Stu, but perhaps the most from going to the Prescott house. Where he could retrace the steps of the crime itself, breathe in her stale smell even a year later.

The pleasant nostalgia climbed his limbs as he wound up the hillside streets to the Prescott house. He parked in the same spot he and Stu had that night, hidden from the streetlights and the windows. He wasn’t supposed to be there again. Echoes and similarities crashed over him. He could be treading his own footsteps from that night as he crept toward the looming and lighted house. He almost stopped to savor the sensation of it, to live in the throbbing thrill.

He also resisted the urge to find the same entry point and burst through the sliding glass door in a full reenactment. He was here for Sidney—not her mother this time.

Avoiding the garish stretch of the ludicrous exterior lights, Billy slipped to the side of the house, away from the street and under Sidney’s window. He stepped back towards the trees until he could see over the railing to glimpse the light in her open window. Then he continued around the back and heaved himself onto the back deck. Laying soundless footsteps on the planks, he ascended to her window and crouched low, listening.

The faint sound of keyboard clicking drifted into the night. Easing up slowly against the siding, Billy peered through the window. Sidney perched on her desk chair, glancing between the monitor and keyboard as she typed. Somehow, her dutifully doing her homework irritated Billy. He had just been out gutting and hanging their classmates as she sat in her room doing what she was supposed to. He wanted to climb through the window and ruffle her perfection. Tear down her perfect life, the façade with which she surrounded herself.

Soon enough.

Billy bumped against the house as he lowered himself from the window. He reached over and sent a small flowerpot cascading over the railing. It shattered faintly below. Then he waited. He could hear Sidney press up from her chair and approach the window. Her hands appeared on the windowsill. Billy smirked before reaching out to snatch her shoulder.

Sidney released a short, sharp scream and recoiled from him.

“It’s just me!” Billy said, leaning in through the window. “Sorry. Don’t hate me,” he said as Sidney helped him climb through.

Billy looked down to notice the nightgown she was wearing. The flowered fabric bared her shoulders. Her perky breasts hinted beneath the thin cotton fabric as the bottom ruffle flirted with her thighs. His mind clouded for a second at the suggestion of all her flesh.

“You sleep in that?” he asked.

“Yes, I sleep in this.” Sidney’s head whirled between Billy and her bedroom door. “My dad is in the other room. You can’t be here.”

“I’ll just stay a sec.” Billy unfolded himself to standing.

“No! You gotta go! Go! Go! Go!” Sidney flustered a hand at Billy’s chest.

A knock fluttered on the door, and Sidney jumped again. Immediately, the door opened yet crashed into Sidney’s open closet door. Billy dove to the floor as Sidney sprinted across the room. Curling his legs in, he pressed himself against the trailing edge of Sidney’s bedspread as he listened.

“What’s going on in there?” Sidney’s dad asked. “Are you okay?”

“Can you knock?” Sidney said.

He did knock, Billy thought, laughing silently to himself.

“I heard screaming,” her dad said.

“No, you didn’t,” Sidney answered.

Yes, you did, Billy thought as he smirked on the floor.

“No?” Her dad’s tone softened. “Oh, well. I am hitting the sack. My flight leaves first thing in the morning. Now, the expo runs all weekend, so I won’t be back till Sunday. There’s cash on the table, and I am staying….”

Bingo. We grab him tomorrow.

“At the Hilton,” Sidney finished.

“Out at the airport. So, call if….”

“I need anything. Yeah, I got it.”

“I could’ve sworn I heard screaming.”

Hopefully, you’re about to, Billy mused.

“Have a good trip, okay?” Sidney dismissed her father.

“Sleep tight, sweetie,” her dad said.

Billy listened for the door to close. He grabbed a stuffed tiger from the floor beside him and popped it up on the bed.

“Close call,” Billy spoke for the tiger.

“Billy, what are you doing here?”

Billy eased up from the floor. “It occurred to me that I had never snuck through your bedroom window.”

“Well, now that it’s out of your system….” Sidney motioned toward the window.

Billy could feel her anxiety. She wanted him to leave. Somehow, that excited him more, being there when she didn’t want him to be. He strode past her, unfazed.

“I was home watching television,” Billy continued. “The Exorcist was on.” He waved his hands beside his head. “It got me thinking of you.” Billy moved around her room as he talked.

Sidney gave an amused shrug. “It did?”

“Yeah, it was edited for TV. All the good stuff was cut out. And it got me thinking of us.” He turned his eyes back to Sidney as he approached her. “How two years ago we started off hot and heavy. Nice solid R rating on our way to a NC-17. And now, things have changed, and lately, we’re just edited for television.”

Sidney’s face fell before she raised her eyebrows slyly. “Oh, so you thought you would climb through my window and have a little raw footage?”

Yes. “No. I wouldn’t dream of breaking your underwear rule.” Billy glanced to the side then back to Sidney. “I just thought we could do a little on-top-of-the-clothes stuff.”

Sidney lowered herself to sit at the edge of her bed. “Okay.”

“Yeah?” Billy offered a grateful smile that felt vile on his face.

“Yeah.” Sidney smiled brightly.

Sidney rose to kiss Billy, and he met her with his mouth. He pressed his lips against her again and again before guiding her back onto the bed. He laid Sidney down gently on the mattress, climbing on top of her.

“Hey,” she said on a soft laugh as they continued to kiss.

Sidney tangled one of her hands in Billy’s as their kiss deepened. Billy’s nerves throbbed in an agitated rhythm. The restraint was maddening. He did not want to be gentle. He did not want to wait. He was exhausted of both. He wanted to just take her. He needed her to finally want him. He felt those desires pounding through him with her breath against his nose, her fingers tracing his own, her body under his. He felt his self-control wobbling.

Billy slipped his fingers from Sidney’s and extended them down her thigh, pressing his hand to her warm, smooth flesh. His brain drowned in impulse as he slid his hand up her thigh, teasing at the hem of her nightgown.

Instantly, Sidney’s firm grip seized his hand and stopped his progress. Anger and rejection sliced through the haze and brought his mind back to a point. He had his mouth on her neck, but she turned away and started to buck him off.

“Okay, okay, okay. Time’s up, stud bucket,” Sidney said as she slid from beneath him. She sat up and pressed her palm over her mouth.

Billy could feel a pulse in his anger. “God, you see what you do to me,” he said exactly what he meant in a soft tone.

Sidney released a laugh and her smile again, brushing her bangs aside. “You know what my dad will do to you?” Sidney cast a glance to the door.

“Yeah, I’m going.”

Billy retreated backwards toward the window. Sidney stood from the bed and followed him, interlacing her fingers with his. Her touch mocked him now, but he treated it with feigned affection. He pecked her lips before pushing his legs out the window.

“You know, I appreciate the romantic gesture.”

Sure, you do, Billy scoffed in his head. “Hey, about the sex stuff, I’m not trying to rush you at all. I was only half-serious.” No, I was completely fucking serious, you frigid bitch.

“Okay.” Sidney cracked a relieved smile and brushed her hand down his arm.

Sidney leaned in to kiss Billy again. He attempted not to bristle at the touch and climbed the rest of the way out of the window.

“Hey Billy, would you settle for a PG-13 relationship?” Sidney called.

Billy looked up from the windowsill. “What’s that?”

Sidney gripped the neckline of her nightgown then tugged to unhinge all the snaps lining the chest. The nightgown flew open for a brief instant, exposing her breasts in the soft light. Billy stood stunned as she covered and laughed at her own cleverness. He leaned forward onto the windowsill and cradled his forehead. Rage billowed up in his chest, but he concealed it with a choking grin.

“My God,” he said. “You’re just a tease.”

Billy dropped out of the window. He saw Sidney watch him for a minute then she receded back into the glow of her room. Seething, Billy slipped back into the night and away from the Prescott house. He no longer felt pleasantly enveloped in the memory of the night he killed the woman who destroyed his family. He was no longer riding the euphoric high of successfully executing two people. Those things were eclipsed by the fact that he was not enough for Sidney, that she did not want him enough. She continued to string him along in this game.

What had he expected? He had expected tonight to be different because tonight was different. He expected her to feel that in him and be seduced by its power. Yet she could not throw him out of her window fast enough.

Just as his mother could not run away from him fast enough.

All because of Maureen. Still.

Billy slammed the car into gear and sped himself home. He entered quiet, but only the grumbling of the television greeted him. When he padded down the hall, he found his father passed out in his recliner, still in his suit. Hank had loosened his tie before he poured his first drink. After several more drinks, Billy knew he forgot what he was wearing at all.

Billy retired to his room and flipped on his television as if he had been home watching all night.

Continued on… Father Death (11)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (8)

5

“This motherfucker is so heavy!” Billy grunted.

“Well, look at him,” Stu replied. “He’s like a linebacker, man.”

Steve moaned as Billy and Stu struggled him through the field outlying Casey’s parents’ property. The lights of the house appeared small in the distance. The shape of the pool glowed in the growing dark. Their long black robes swished and tangled in the grass. As they approached Casey’s house, Steve shifted against the duct tape binding him.

“He’s coming to,” Stu reported.

“Get him in a chair.”

Billy and Stu shuffled around the edge of the pool deck. An eerie mist rose from the glowing water. Both scrutinized the lighted windows of Casey’s house for movement. They lowered Steve, and Billy gestured to one of the chairs beside the water. Stu hustled to it and lifted it to avoid scraping it along the cement.

“Hurry!” Billy barked.

Stu huffed and threw exasperated eyes back at Billy as he maneuvered the chair over. As Steve wriggled at Billy’s feet, fighting his tape bindings, his muffled screams rose from the ground. Billy replied with a swift kick to his ribs.

“Shut up,” Billy hissed. “There. Help me with him.”

Steve thrashed as they gathered him up and wrestled him into the chair. Billy reached into his bag and extracted the glinting knife, holding it up in front of Steve’s face. Steve’s eyes went wide, and he stilled, puffing panicked breaths out of his nose. Billy lowered the knife and cut the tape at Steve’s wrists. Then Stu tore off fresh tape and bound him to the arms of the chair.

Billy studied Steve’s eyes as Stu worked. Frantic, they shifted from Stu’s hands to Billy’s knife. They lingered the longest on Casey’s house, trying to press into the window. Billy stared at the fear pooling in tears at the corners of Steve’s eyes. When Billy stepped back and the blade moved away with him, Steve tugged on his new restraints and screamed against the tape again. Stu stepped up in front of him.

“Nighty night.” Stu smiled and punched Steve hard in the face.

Steve slacked against his bindings, slumping in the chair. His head rolled to the slide as blood trickled down over the tape covering his mouth. Billy and Stu both tipped their heads as they regarded him. Then each took an arm of the chair and lifted, grunting and scuttling until he was tucked behind the planter. With Steve out of sight from the house, they retreated into the darkness of the yard.

Crouching behind the plants, Billy lowered his bag. He sheathed his knife in a forearm holster then offered Stu another blade to do the same. He handed the cell phone and voice changer to Stu. Then they both extracted a mask. Billy held his mask in his hands, examining the screaming visage once more. Then they both turned their eyes to the house to see Casey move across the window.

Casey’s figure, cleaved in a cream sweater and purple pants, crossed their view as she moved between the kitchen and the living room. They could see the blue glow from her television as it anticipated an upcoming movie screening. She tucked her short blonde hair behind one ear as she walked. She floated through the house, ignorant, naïve, unaware. And that made her beautiful. Billy and Stu exchanged elated grins and nodded.

Stu stepped back and positioned himself where he could see the most windows. He hunched against a tree and clutched the phone and voice changer in his hands.

Billy pulled the mask over his face. An elastic band hugged the back of his head while the hood draped down over his shoulders. As the plastic of the mask pressed against his nose, the mesh eye holes darkened his view of the night. He listened to his own breathing as he moved back toward Steve.

Once Billy was settled, Stu took a deep breath and pressed the Call button. The call rang in his ear before he heard the phone ring in Casey’s house. He watched Casey move across the living room to retrieve the phone from the small table, television glowing behind her.

“Hello?”

Stu heard Casey’s voice in his ear and watched her hold the receiver to her ear, stretching the spiraled cord. He was glad he had caught her in the living room, in full view of the patio door windows. It was as if she was on a movie screen for him.

“Hello?” he responded, hearing the distorted version rendered by the voice changer.

“Yes?”

“Who is this?” Stu was not sure what to say, how to start this exchange.

“Who are you trying to reach?”

“What number is this?” Stu stalled. His mind raced with his heart.

“What number are you trying to reach?” Casey leaned into the phone, smiling.

“I don’t know.” He said exactly what he was thinking.

“I think you have the wrong number.”

No, I have exactly the right number, he thought. “Do I?”

“It happens. Take it easy.”

Stu watched Casey move the phone from her ear and heard the call die in his own.

“Shit!” he hissed.

Casey turned away to leave the living room as he redialed the call. The phone beckoned her again, and she turned to snatch it back up.

Billy watched Stu from his crouch, anxiety prickling along his skin. He forced himself to breathe against the mask and hear and measure the exhalations. He wanted to be on the phone. He wanted to be orchestrating the night. He’s already fucking it up, his mind kept chanting. He choked on the necessity of letting Stu do this. Billy was the director, writer, maybe even the leading man of his movie, but he needed Stu to play his part.

“Hello?” Casey answered again.

“I’m sorry. I guess I dialed the wrong number,” Stu answered.

“So, why’d you dial it again?”

“To apologize.” He had never apologized to Casey once. She was the one who needed to apologize to him.

“You’re forgiven. Bye now.”

Not so fast, bitch, he thought. “Wait! Wait! Don’t hang up!” Stu said.

“What?”

“I want to talk to you for a second.” I want to play a game.

“They’ve got 900 numbers for that. See-ya.”

The phone died in Stu’s ear again, and he watched Casey shake her head as she left the room, moving out of sight down the hall and into the kitchen.

“Shit!” Stu slapped his gloved hand against the tree bark. “Fucking bitch.”

Stu redialed.

Billy clasped his gloved hands and strangled them together, breathing harder against the mask. Steve rustled in the rousing edges of consciousness beside him.

“Hello?” Casey answered.

“Why don’t you want to talk to me?” Stu asked. Why did you dump me?

“Who is this?”

“You tell me your name, I’ll tell you mine.” Stu smiled as he found his footing in the banter.

“I don’t think so.” Casey shook something, and the noise drifted into the receiver.

“What’s that noise?”

“Popcorn.”

Stu heard the smile in Casey’s voice, even though she was out of sight in the kitchen. He remembered that smile. He remembered her movie nights. She was getting ready for Steve.

“You’re making popcorn?” He knew she was. He knew she always did when she watched movies on a date.

“Uh-huh.”

“I only eat popcorn at the movies.” Let’s talk about movies, Casey.

“Well, I’m getting ready to watch a video.”

I know you are. “Really? What?”

“Oh. Just some scary movie.”

You used to watch scary movies with me. “You like scary movies?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” Stu held his breath.

Yes, read the script, Billy thought as he released a calmer breath.

“Uh, I don’t know,” Casey said.

“You have to have a favorite. What comes to mind?” Stu asked. I showed you so many.

“Umm…Halloween.”

Stu smiled and leaned his head against the tree. He thought of watching Halloween with Casey, kissing down her flesh as Michael Myers executed teenagers. His excitement surged, and he breathed slow to calm himself.

“You know the one guy in the white mask that walks around and stalks babysitters,” Casey continued.

Stu knew the one. “Yeah.”

“What’s yours?”

“Guess.”

Tonight. Tonight was Stu’s favorite scary movie.

“Um… Nightmare on Elm Street,” Casey said.

“Is that the one with the guy that has knives for fingers?”

“Yeah, Freddy Kruger.”

“Freddy, that’s right.” Stu rolled his eyes. Everyone knew Freddy. “I like that movie. It was scary.”

Casey reappeared in the window as she moved from the kitchen back toward the living room. She held a stack of VHS tapes in her hands. Stu traced her with his eyes, feeling his heart hammer in his chest. His hands trembled around the devices, anxious for action.

“The first one was, but the rest sucked,” Casey continued.

“So, you got a boyfriend?” Or do you care about Steve as much as you cared about me?

“Why? You want to ask me out on a date?”

Stu watched Casey walk to the television and stack the tapes on top. He saw her flirtatious head tilt, the way her hip cocked and nearly lost himself to a flashback. She clearly cared for Steve just as much as she had cared for him.

“Maybe,” Stu said, gritting his teeth. “So, do you have a boyfriend?”

“Mmmm, no.”

“You never told me your name,” Stu pressed.

“Why do you want to know my name?”

“So I know who I am looking at.” Stu held his breath again.

Casey froze. Her head snapped up, and she looked away from the window. Stu saw the words impact her brain, and his body trembled at the resonance.

Billy peered over the plants to see her body go rigid. As planned. He smiled under the mask.

“What did you say?” Casey hesitated.

You heard me, bitch. “I want to know who I’m talking to.” Stu could scarcely stifle a giggle.

“That’s not what you said.”

Casey moved close to the patio doors and reached for the light switch. Light flashed and washed over the patio, over the spot where they had wrestled and taped Steve. Stu glanced at the edge of the light from his shadows, saw Steve and Billy still tucked out of sight. Casey’s eyes swept the pool, her face docile and oblivious. Then she flipped the lights back off.

“What do you think I said?”

“What? Hello?” Don’t give up yet, Casey. I’m not done yet. We haven’t got to play yet.

“Look, I got to go.” Casey’s voice changed, lost its melody and flirtation.

“Wait. I thought we were going to go out?”

“Uh no. I don’t think so.” Casey’s fingers fumbled down to lock the patio doors, fear contorting her features.

Stu saw her move to lower the phone. “Don’t hang up on me!”

The phone died in Stu’s ear, and Casey turned back toward the kitchen. Billy sprang up. Stu hesitated to see the ghostly face in the night. Then Billy waved him over with a firm hand. Sprinting over the grass, Stu grabbed one side of the chair. Steve grunted and struggled again as they swiveled him back into position between the pool and the house.

“Here,” Billy commanded from beneath the mask. “He has to be right in the middle when she looks out that window.”

With the chair in place, Stu redialed the phone. As it rang, Stu returned to his tree, and Billy moved around the perimeter of the house.

The itching returned to Billy’s palms as he moved around the side of the house. He looked to the empty rope swing hanging eerily from the massive tree in the front yard and the empty gravel driveway. The quiet, manicured, landscaped front yard only made Billy’s nerves writhe more furious beneath his skin. Billy crouched beside the front porch and waited.

“Yes?” Casey’s tone had changed. Stu remembered this clipped tone from when she dumped him.

“I told you not to hang up on me.” Stu felt his resentment tangle with his excitement.

“What do you want?”

“To talk.” To fucking kill you.

“Well, dial someone else. Okay?”

The call died in Stu’s ear, but he grinned. He crept around the house to glimpse Casey in the kitchen. Smoke bloomed from the roasting popcorn. Casey lifted it, and Stu pressed Call. Dropping the popcorn, she snatched the phone to her ear.

“Listen, asshole,” she snapped.

“No, you listen, you little bitch! You hang up on me again, I’ll gut you like a fish. You understand?” Stu released an unmitigated laugh, and it sounded maniacal through the voice changer. The words were liberating, flowing out of him unfiltered. “Yeah.”

“Is this some kind of joke?”

Stu could hear Casey was crying now, and that only spurred him on. “More of a game, really. Can you handle that? Blondie?”

Casey sprinted from the kitchen, and Stu shadowed her as she ran down the hall checking locks. His heart pounded with glee and excitement as he moved. He rounded to the front and saw the top of her head peer from the glass at the top of the front door.

“Can you see me?” he mocked from the darkness.

“Listen, I am two seconds away from calling the police.” She was using a strong voice, but Stu heard her weakness, wanted to feed on it.

“They’d never make it in time were in the middle of nowhere,” he pressed.

“What do you want?” she sobbed harder.

“To see what your insides look like.” The words tasted so sweet Stu could not help but lick the air and the lips of his smile.

Billy stood and stepped up on the edge of the porch. He nodded his ghost face at Stu as he crouched down and moved to the front door. He rang the doorbell twice in a friendly way a boyfriend would. Then he slipped off the porch and back around the house.

“Who’s there? Who’s there? I’m calling the police!” They heard Casey say.

Stu immediately pressed the Call button.

“You should never say, ‘Who’s there?’ Don’t you watch scary movies? It’s a death wish. You might as well come out and investigate a strange noise or something.” He wanted to laugh but chewed it back as he hurried back around by the pool.

“Look, you’ve had your fun now. So, I think you better just leave or else.”

“Or else what?” Stu choked back more giggles. This was too much fun.

Peering through the patio door windows again, Stu watched Casey move back into the living room. She hunched over and clutched her stomach. When she turned her face, he could see the tears streaming down her pink cheeks. She looked even more beautiful to Stu now.

“Or else my boyfriend will be here any second, and he’ll be pissed when he finds out.”

Billy stood beside Stu. They both glanced over at Steve, bloodied and bound to the pool chair, and chuckled silently. Stu reached over to give Billy a gentle nudge.

“I thought you didn’t have a boyfriend?” he mocked.

“I lied, I do have a boyfriend, and he’ll be here any second. So, your ass better be gone.” She was reaching. Stu could see her body language wilting under her fear. She held her stomach tighter now.

“Sure.”

“I swear.” Casey stood and went rigid. “He’s big, and he plays football, and he’ll kick the shit out of you!” She shouted until she craned forward.

“I’m getting scared. I am shaking in my boots.” Stu let the sarcasm drip from his words.

“So, you just better leave.”

“His name wouldn’t be Steve, would it?” Stu glanced over at Steve again. Steve caught his eye, and Stu offered a mocking chin lift.

“How do you know his name?”

“Turn on the patio lights. Again.” Stu knew she would not be able to resist. He knew she believed him now, that she knew he could see her.

Casey pressed up against the glass. She reached out, and light washed over Steve. At the sight of her, he struggled futile against his restraints again.

“Oh god!” Casey shrieked. Stu could hear her through the phone and the glass in a terribly wonderful symphony.

Billy’s breath caught in his throat at her face. That was the look; that was the fear. All his anxiety settled. It no longer mattered who was on the phone, who was holding the knife. That was what he came here to see.

Casey immediately reached down and loosed the lock, opening the door to rush to Steve.

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you!” Stu snapped in his anger, anger at her willingness to run out to a killer for Steve.

Casey pulled the door closed and turned the lock again. Tears poured down her face as her free hand teased at the glass.

“Where are you?” she cried.

“Guess.”

“Don’t hurt him.”

Too late. “That all depends on you.”

“Why are you doing this?” Casey continued to cry and twitch her fingers at the window.

“I want to play a game.” I want to make you pay.

“No.”

“Then he dies right now.”

“No! No!” Casey wailed, her face contorting.

“Which is it?” Stu asked and waited for her reply. Casey continued to stare at Steve. “Which is it?” he asked again, leaning into the words.

“Wh-what kind of a game?” she stammered.

Stu smiled, grim and pleased. “Turn off the lights. You’ll see what kind of game.” Casey hesitated, and Stu shouted, “just do it!”

The lights extinguished again, drowning Steve in the darkness and his muffled protests. Casey pressed her forehead to the glass before sliding down the wall and crawling backward behind the television. Stu grinned in victory and moved closer to the house.

“Here’s how to play,” Stu started. “I ask you a question. If you get it right, Steve lives.”

“Please, don’t do this.” Casey’s voice folded under her cries again. The room got darker when she unplugged the small light on top of the television.

“Come on, it’ll be fun!” It already was fun.

“Please.”

“It’s an easy category.”

“Please.”

“Movie trivia.” Stu could barely contain his excitement, knowing how terrible Casey would be at movie trivia, not that it mattered if she got the questions right or not.

“I’ll give you a warm-up question.”

“Don’t do this. I can’t.”

“Name the killer in Halloween.” Stu recited from Billy’s list of questions, selecting from his shared past with Casey.

“No.”

“Come on,” Stu coaxed. “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had a white mask, and he stalked babysitters.”

“I don’t know.”

“Come on. Yes, you do.” You came looking at his mask.

“No, please, “Casey whimpered.

“What’s his name?”

“I can’t think.”

“Steve’s counting on you.” Stu looked to Steve again, still wasting his time battling tape.

“Michael. Michael Myers.” Casey’s voice turned resolute.

“Yes! Very good. Now for the real question.”

“No!” Casey lifted her head as the tears returned to her voice.

“But you’re doing so well,” Stu mocked. “We can’t just stop now.”

“Please, stop! Leave us alone.”

“Then answer the question. Same category.”

“Oh, please stop.”

“Name the killer in Friday the 13th?” Stu selected another of Billy’s approved questions. The trick question.

Casey’s head appeared in the window above the television. She bounced on her feet, excited.

“Jason! Jason! Jason!” she shouted.

Stu licked his lips in glee. “I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer.”

“No, it’s not! No, it’s not! It’s Jason!” Casey stomped forward in front of the larger window, giving Stu a clearer vision of her angry face.

“Afraid not,” he pushed. “No way.”

“Listen, it was Jason.” Casey’s face hardened. “I saw that movie 20 goddamn times!”

“Then you should know that the original killer was Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhies. Jason didn’t show up till the sequel. I’m afraid that was the wrong answer.”

Stu relished watching her face fall, glorying in her disappointment and frustration.

“You tricked me,” Casey said, defeated.

“Lucky for you, there is a bonus round. But, poor Steve, I am afraid he’s out!”

At the cue, Billy pulled the knife from his sleeve. His heart pounded in a calm and purposeful rhythm as he took long strides toward Steve. He braced himself as he slashed across Steve’s stomach. Steve howled against the tape. Billy swiftly stuffed his hand into the open wound, feeling the warmth and the wet, and yanked out a fistful of intestines before riding the thrill into the shadows and around the house.

Casey appeared at the patio doors, and the lights switched on, illuminating the carnage. Steve’s eyelids fluttered as his head tipped back before he went limp in the chair. Stu drank in Casey’s horrified expression as she slid down the glass and retreated across her floor to tuck herself behind her television. Stu could not contain his laughter.

“Hey, we’re not finished yet,” Stu called. “Final question. Are you ready?”

“Please, please, leave me alone,” Casey begged.

“Answer the question, and I will,” Stu lied, greedy for her pain. “What door am I at?” He spoke slow and annunciated.

Casey’s head appeared above the television again as she looked around, confused. “What?”

“There are two main doors to your house, the front door and the patio door. Very simple,” Stu explained.

“I can’t do this. I can’t. I won’t.”

“Your call.”

Stu disconnected the call and pocketed the devices. He pulled the mask over his face. The plastic pressed against his grin, and his hot breath immediately filled the space. He grasped an empty chair and heaved it toward the house, sending it crashing through the patio doors he had been gazing through all night.

With the smashing of the back window, Billy punched a side window and slipped through the broken frame. Even through the mask, he could see the smoke thick in the house from the kitchen. He pressed against the wall. Casey’s footsteps pounded through the house as she sprinted. Billy’s fingers tingled with excitement as he clutched the knife and ran across the hall, searching for her.

Outside, Stu traced the edge of the house. As he rounded the corner, he glimpsed Casey slinking out of the side kitchen door. She pulled the door closed behind her, quiet and cautious, pressing her back tight against the house. The phone lingered in one hand as she clung to a knife in the other. He left her there and took the opportunity to slip through the destroyed patio door.

As Billy moved into the kitchen, the heat from the flames on the stove pressed at him through his costume. He pushed through the smoke, circling around the island in the empty room. Still no Casey and she could not have gone far. Not with Stu out back.

Billy crossed the kitchen and stood near the window. He allowed his eyes to trace the room then snapped his head to the window. He nearly startled to find Casey’s face on the other side of the glass. Casey screamed loud. His heart seized, but he punched his hand through the glass to snatch her wrist below her weapon. Casey continued shrieking as he bashed his head through the window toward her.

He felt the control at holding her wrist, tugging her closer, moving to pull himself through the window. Then the phone smashed into his face. The plastic of the mask plowed into his nose, and the world went bright then blurry. Billy toppled back onto the hardwood floor in a disoriented heap.

Casey’s shrieks and the sound of breaking glass stabbed through Stu’s hood. He tilted the ghastly face to see her dart from the side of the house onto the patio. She hesitated in front of the broken doors and Steve’s disemboweled corpse.

Guess he’s not better than me now, Stu mused as he grinned beneath the mask.

He kept pace with Casey from within the house, and when she rounded the corner, he threw himself through the small window. Launching his arms in front of him, he wrapped around her and snagged her shoulders. She tugged and struggled against his grip, but he turned her into him, wrapped under his arm as they used to walk together. Then he plunged his knife into her chest.

Casey crumpled from under his arm, tumbling back into the damp grass. Her hands flew to her spilling wound as whimpers poured from her quivering lips. Stu stood stunned over her for a second, absorbing the sight of the vitality flowing from her cut. As he straddled her, a strange blend of panic and elation surged through him. It had been so long since he had been this close to her, been on top of her. He had never been in control of her like this. She never did what he wanted like she was about to.

Casey threw up her arms to resist him, but the moment dissolved into a blur. Stu reached through the haze of her movements and her cries to seize her neck and stab the blade through the side of her throat. In a coughing gag and sputter of blood, Casey went silent. Stu stopped breathing to marvel at his own work.

Billy would be so proud.

The pain exploded through Stu’s body. His vision went red as his stomach curled into itself. Casey had thrust her knee up into his testicles, and he nearly vomited into the mask. Stu folded helpless into the ache. With a shove from Casey, he sprawled onto his back and wallowed in the blow. He could hear Casey scramble to her feet and move across the lawn as he waited for the waves to pass.

The headlights of Casey’s parent’s car swept over the lawn as it approached. Then the tires rumbled over the gravel before pulling to a halt. The car doors shut before parental chatter drifted in their direction. Casey staggered toward them, toward help. Stu dragged himself to his feet as he watched Casey extend her hand and cry out of a muted throat.

He approached her from behind, knowing they couldn’t hear her, knowing she wouldn’t make it to them. When he reached her, he flipped her to her back with little effort. With all the blood loss, she flopped to the boards of the porch. Stu positioned himself to finish her, and Casey raised a bloody and shaking hand. Her fingertips pressed into his face as she gripped the mask and pulled it from his face.

She looked up and saw Stu’s face, recognition breaking over her features. She did not even look that surprised. He was glad she knew it was him. He raised the blade high and stabbed until she stopped breathing.

The smoke detector chirped, and Casey’s parents called her name as Billy jogged around the side of the house, the bag bouncing at his side. When he reached Stu, Stu had already tugged Casey’s body off the porch. Billy could tell she was dead. She had that Maureen look. He cracked his neck to ignore the jealousy at missing that final flash of fear and control.

This was Stu’s turn. This was cementing Stu’s role.

Billy stared aghast at Stu’s exposed face.

“Put your fucking mask back on,” Billy barked.

“She pulled it off,” Stu said. “I was a little busy.”

“What if her parents came out here?”

“What are we going to do with her?”

Billy turned his ghost face from side to side, surveying the yard. When his eyes settled on the tree swing, he grinned beneath the mask. He bent down to seize one of Casey’s wrists and helped Stu drag her across the grass.

“Open her up,” Billy commanded as they reached the swing.

“What?” Stu asked.

“Open her up. Intestines spilling out just like Steve.”

Stu hesitated, his blank ghost face tilted up at Billy.

“You started it,” Billy clipped. “Now, finish it.”

Billy turned to the swing and swiftly sawed through each rope. The voices in the house grew louder, more frantic.

“Hurry,” Billy hissed. “We have to get her up before they get out here.”

Stu gagged and pressed the back of his hand to the mask. Then he staggered back to standing.

“She’s open, man,” Stu said, voice wavering.

“Get her up here then.”

Stu’s blank mask whirled up to Billy again, tilted in outrage. Yet without a word, he slipped his hands under Casey’s armpits and heaved her up. The two worked awkwardly with the floppy corpse until Casey hung suspended from the tree. Her intestines tumbled from her stomach to pile on the grass below, just as Billy had wanted.

Billy stared for a long moment before slapping Stu in the stomach and shouldering the bag. The two hustled into the dark field, disappearing between the leaves as Casey’s mom’s scream shattered the night.

Continued on… Father Death (9)

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Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (7)

3

The morning bell split through the sunlight at Woodsboro High. Students loitered over the lawns and sidewalks, meandering into the entrances and clustering into conversation circles. Stu occupied himself by jumping on then off the metal railing climbing along the cement stairs. Billy leaned against the railing, his arms pinned across his stomach as he squinted at the crowd.

Billy caught sight of Sidney approaching from the parking lot with Tatum. She wore a short-sleeved shirt printed with small flowers and jeans, her backpack slung over one shoulder. Half of her hair was secured in a loose clip with her bangs left across her forehead and the rest of her hair brushing her shoulders. Billy’s heart seized at the sight of her. The customary flash of Maureen’s death mask flitted through his memory, but today, there was more. Today, the additional thrill of all that was coming tingled on his skin.

Stu launched from the railing and jogged across the grass to the girls. He seized Tatum around the waist. Despite her giggled protests, he dipped her back and planted a dramatic kiss on her mouth.

“Good morning, ladies,” Stu said as he bowed.

Stu moved his arm up around Tatum’s shoulders and drew her into him. Tatum’s blonde hair fluttered wild in the breeze. Her neon top clung suggestively to her figure.

Billy strode up beside Sidney. She offered him a gentle smile then leaned in to peck his lips. At the crinkle in her eyes, Billy saw her mother again. At her small grin, he saw the future they had planned for her. He wanted to grab her, take her right here on this lawn. Instead, he smiled back and took her hand softly in his.

Billy and Stu exchanged a conspiratorial look over the girls’ heads. A delirious smile consumed Stu’s face.

The group filed in through the front doors of the school and wandered down to their respective lockers. Tatum linked her arm through Sidney’s and escorted her away from Billy. Sidney cast her eyes back and smiled goodbye to Billy. Billy noted some plans for how Tatum would meet her end later.

Billy slouched against his closed locker. Stu reclined with him and gave him that same look, that look saturated with their plan. So many worthless classes and hours stretched out in front of them now, in the way of the next steps. They faced the day like children going to bed on Christmas Eve and trying to sleep.

“We should have cut today,” Stu mumbled.

“That would have been suspicious,” Billy answered.

“I don’t know how I’m going to focus.”

“You never focus,” Billy scoffed. “Fake it like every other day and keep running through tonight in your head.”

Stu nodded. The bell clattered through the hallway. They exchanged one more glance then broke off toward homeroom.

Stu stared at the back of Steven Orth from his desk. He had stared at Steve plenty of mornings since Casey, but this morning, he looked different. Stu could see all the blood pumping under his skin. He could see all the organs that could be dissected and removed. Every time Steve’s shoulders rose and fell with breath. Stu imagined stopping that motion.

The more he fantasized, the wider his grin grew.

“Mr. Macher, do you have anything to add to today’s news?” Mrs. Mays asked.

Stu startled, the smile sluffing from his cheeks. He turned his eyes to the teacher.

“No,” he said.

Giggles rippled along the class. Mrs. Mays blinked a little longer then resumed speaking. Stu did not bother to listen as he was already imagining how long it would take to remove Steve’s intestines with his hands.

During passing period, Billy waited in the hallway outside Sidney’s English class. He pressed one shoulder into the wall and crossed an ankle over the other. His empty backpack hung worthless from his shoulder. He had no use for books today. Each class was just motion, just playing along, just appearances.

The classroom door opened, and students filed out. Billy ignored the first anonymous faces, but he felt the flinch in his core when Casey breached the door frame. Casey clutched her books to her white sweater. She smiled wide as she giggled, her entire face crinkling sweetly. Her straight blonde hair curled around her earlobes. Stu did have a thing for blondes.

Seeing her face, Billy envisioned it twisting in fear like Maureen’s, screaming like Maureen did, bloodied like Maureen’s was. He plastered his memories over Casey’s present moment, and he nearly went hard.

Then Sidney stepped into the hallway, and he composed himself. He pushed up from the wall and offered her his hand. Sidney’s fingers slipped along his, and the heat of her skin enticed him more. His nerves blazed. The hair on his legs rose to rub against his jeans.

Sidney stopped at her locker and released Billy’s hand. When she opened the door, Billy pressed into her, guiding her face to his. He kissed her rougher than he intended and let his hand wander down her back and over her ass.

“Billy,” Sidney half-laughed, “what are you doing?”

Sidney pushed against Billy’s chest until he let her go. All the sensation in his body concentrated on her pressing him away. All that electricity reduced down to her rejection. Sidney grinned up at him, and he tucked his rage behind a guilty smile.

“You look beautiful today,” he said then clenched his teeth together hard enough to strain his jaw.

“Let me hit that,” Stu said, ducking under the bleachers.

“Shouldn’t you be running laps?” Randy answered in a plumed exhalation.

“Shouldn’t you be running laps?”

Stu gestured at Randy’s baggy gym shorts and stained tee. Randy looked down at Stu’s comparable apparel. Then both laughed, and Randy extended the joint to him. Stu pinched the joint in his slender fingertips and brought it to his puckered lips. He inhaled deep, his eyes going wide as he did, then held his breath until his sinuses tickled. Then he released smoke rings into the air above his head and marveled at them before returning the joint to Randy.

“Well done, sir.” Randy offered a golf clap before taking the joint.

“Now, this is what I call fitness.”

“Mental fitness is very important.” Randy sucked on the joint again and propped his head on the metal support as he released the smoke.

“Not going to catch me out there with the sheep today.” Stu reached for his turn.

“Your boy Billy doesn’t seem to have a problem with the flock.” Randy looked through the bleachers and jutted his chin at Billy, rounding the track in front of them.

Stu shrugged and sucked hard on the end of the joint. “Maybe he has things to run off,” he said in smoky words.

“Daddy issues.”

“Maybe that’s why Sidney picked him.”

Stu shot Randy a fierce look then burst into giggles. Randy joined him, and the laughter accelerated until Mr. Lambert’s ears pricked, and he whirled in the direction of the bleachers. Randy and Stu plastered their hands over their mouths and cowered in the shadows.

Billy unfurled himself along the grass. He tucked his hands under his head and allowed the sun to bake down on his closed eyes. Stu sat beside him, picking blades of grass and chucking them down the hill. The sounds of clashing pads, grunts, and shouts wafted up from the football field at the bottom of the hill.

“Bunch of butt-fucking jackasses,” Stu mused, squinting into the lowering sun.

“Casey left you for all that.” Billy grinned but kept his eyes closed.

Stu turned to him. “Ouch, man. Ouch.”

Billy eased up on his elbows and winked into the glaring light. He regarded the football team first, the anonymous jerseys circling over the striped turf in pointless patterns, then offered Stu a promising smirk.

“Don’t worry, buddy,” he said. “You get to show her tonight. We get to show all of them.”

Whistles screeched, and the team broke their lines to huddle in a massive, teeming circle. Billy and Stu took the cue and rose to their feet. The team throbbed as an organism below. The helmets clustered together as the boys placed their hands on each other’s padded backs. They bounced in a mass from one side to the other. Their grunts started staggered and unsynchronized then harmonized into one chanting voice.

Simultaneously, Billy and Stu burst out laughing. Billy lifted the back of his hand to shield his mouth. Stu hunched around imaginary teammates and bounced in a rhythm with the team.

“Hoo!” he shouted, slapping Billy’s shoulder. “Hoo! Are you ready?” He smacked Billy’s shoulder again. “Are you READY?”

Billy smirked and turned toward the team. “I’m ready.”

Billy and Stu walked side by side down the hill toward the team.

“Hey, Steve! Hey, man! Steve, over here,” Stu shouted from the hood of Billy’s car. He waved his hands over his head.

Steve rolled his eyes hard on an exhale and shouldered his duffle.

“Steeeeve, I know you see me, man.” Stu slid from the hood onto his feet.

Steve looked at the asphalt before turning towards Billy’s car.

“Look, I told you, Macher,” Steve said, punctuating his words with his hand. “Casey is with me now. She has been for a while. So, you can just fuck yourself.”

“That’s what I need to talk to you about. Casey, not the fucking myself,” Stu laughed.

“What about Casey?”

As Steve approached the car, Billy eased from the driver’s seat.

“Loomis, what the fuck are you doing here?” Steve hesitated, shifting his weight back on his heels.

Stu could not contain the grin. He tipped his chin down, but it spread up his face and crept toward his gleaming eyes. Billy allowed the metal pipe to slide down the back of his arm and into his hand as he waited to see what Steve would do. Steve shifted his eyes from Stu to Billy and back, his shoulder rising towards his ears.

“Relax, Steve, I just want to tell you.” Stu offered his palms.

“Tell me what?” Steve took a step forward.

Stu’s grin split wider as he leaned in to meet Steve. Billy lunged forward and struck Steve in the side of the head with the pipe. Steve collapsed in a heap to the pavement. Stu scanned the parking lot as he slung Steve’s bag over his shoulder. Billy shoved the pipe in his back pocket. The two quickly gathered Steve’s limp body and dragged him to the back door, shoving him through.

Billy started the engine, and Stu dropped into the passenger’s seat.

“We have a date for movie trivia with Casey,” Stu laughed.

Continued on… Father Death (9)

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Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (6)

2

“Where have you been?” Hank Loomis asked as Billy pressed the front door closed behind him.

“Stu’s.”

“Not Sidney’s?” Hank appeared in the hallway, and Billy bristled at the sight of him.

“Not today.”

“How is Sidney?”

Billy flinched at Sidney’s name in his father’s mouth. His hand clamped on the doorknob to diffuse the rage tingling down his arm.

“Fine,” Billy said.

“Sidney’s a good girl,” Hank continued. “You need to take care of her.”

Billy heard the slur on the tips of his father’s words before Hank’s steps faltered. He knew where this night would go. He could see his father’s short glass pooled with the dark brown liquid on the kitchen counter even though it was out of view. He did not want to hear where his father’s words would eventually wander because he would never say what Billy wanted to hear. He would never admit anything.

Billy grunted in acknowledgment, unable to conjure words, unable to think of any that would not inspire his father to keep talking. He flitted his eyes at his father and hurried to the stairs to disappear into his room.

By the time Billy cleared the threshold, his heartbeat battered his head. He slammed the door behind him harder than he intended. Turning on the small television on his dresser, he clicked until he found a horror movie. The haunting melody of The Exorcist soundtrack filled his bedroom and poured over his mind.

His head throbbed with ideas, with plans. There were so many variables, so many potential witnesses swirling through scenarios in his mind. There was no script. After Casey and Steve, it would be largely improvision. As long as it led to Sidney. It only seemed appropriate to tie up that end, to see that same look on Maureen’s daughter’s face as she died.

The future taking shape in his brain tempered the anger ever-writhing in his chest. He didn’t think about his mother’s absence or his father’s fault. He didn’t think about how he could not convince Sidney to fuck him. He didn’t think about how he could not get anything in his life the way he wanted. He focused on Casey and Steve and all the things they would do to them.

Steve would be easy enough to take after football practice. He would be in the typical circle jerk in the locker room. Billy and Stu would only need to call him close enough to the car in the parking lot. Then the fun could begin.

As he thought of the game, he smiled. Sprawling across his mattress, he reached under his bed and snagged the notebook. He wiggled the pencil from the spiral and flipped to the active sheet. He placed the eraser between his teeth to watch Regan projectile vomit across the screen then added more questions to his list.

Name the killer in Halloween?
Name the killer in Friday the 13th?

With each word, Billy was in that future, holding the phone then the knife, carving a different life than where he currently breathed. It was so close he could nearly nudge it with the tip of his pencil.

“Stuart Macher!” Gloria Macher shouted from the kitchen.

“Yeah, Ma?” Stu called, draped across the couch.

“Look at this kitchen! Get in here!”

Stu exhaled a weighty breath and rolled his eyes to the ceiling before dragging himself from the cushions and to his mother. Gloria moved around the kitchen island, picking up dishes and dropping them in disdain.

“How many people did you have over? How are there this many dishes everywhere?” Gloria continued raving.

“Just Billy.”

“The entire house is like this, Stuart!”

“You have been gone for two weeks, Ma,” Stu whined.

“And we leave again tomorrow.” Gloria planted her hands on her hips.

“And this trash hasn’t been taken out,” Nathan Macher said, entering the kitchen from the garage.

“You guys expect me to handle everything while you’re gone?” Stu protested.

“You’re nearly an adult, Stuart,” Nathan said. “You need to be able to take care of yourself.”

Stu exhaled slow and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve been busy,” he groaned.

“Busy with what?” Nathan asked. “Your grades would indicate not school.”

Stu’s face collapsed. The words evacuated his mouth as he felt his parents’ eyes burning into him. He shifted uncomfortably until their stares grew bored and wandered.

“Where are you guys headed now?” Stu asked, massaging over his face.

“Mexico,” Gloria shrugged. “You know I love Puerto Vallarta this time of year.”

Stu offered a pained smile and nodded.

“Just make sure to handle all of this while we’re gone,” Nathan commanded.

“Yes, Dad,” Stu said and shuffled out of the kitchen.

Stu left the television mumbling and the light on in the room and plodded up the stairs to retreat into his room. Leaving the light off, he navigated the scattered clothes and shoes littered over the floor. He flipped on his small television and found the same thing he had been watching downstairs, yet he just looked through the flashing images.

Most nights, he didn’t want Billy to leave or needed Tatum to linger. He never wanted to be left in the massive house full of vacant rooms. Yet now, the house felt too full. He felt crowded as he hid from his parents’ narrowed eyes. Sprawled out on his bed, he wondered what his father’s insides looked like, how loud his mother would scream before the knife bit her neck.

It was in his power. He could feel it. No one would even know they were missing for weeks.

If Billy said so.

Stu closed his eyes and thought about Casey and Steven. All the gruesome steps in Billy’s plan walked him into his dreams.

Continued on… Father Death (8)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (5)

1996

1

Billy slumped on Stu’s couch as he massaged his chin, feeling the sharp edge of the stubble forcing its way through his flesh. His eyes lost focus on the television screen, yet he stared beyond it, stared into the past. The night with Maureen grew fainter with each passing day. Its sedative effect on his rage waned, and the itching, uncomfortable pressure in his chest returned. Stu chattered beside him, provoking the irritation into Billy’s clenched jaw.

“Ah! As if!” Alicia Silverstone screeched from the screen.

A geyser of anger shot into Billy’s head. He slapped his hands to his knees and shot to his feet to avoid screaming.

“How do you watch this shit?” he growled.

Stu looked up with his sandwich hovering in front of his face. The lettuce quivered in his breath as his mouth turned down in surprise.

“Because Alicia is hot,” Stu said plainly. The smile crept up his cheeks.

Billy winced. “She looks like Tatum.”

Stu shifted his eyes to the screen and tipped his head then shrugged. “Yeah, I guess she does. No wonder I like it.” He released a cartoonish laugh.

Billy bristled. “The entire movie is full of nothing but human fodder.”

“This whole town is human fodder,” Stu dismissed before chomping into his sandwich, sending mayonnaise squeezing from the sides.

Billy dropped back to the cushion. He laced his fingers behind his head and allowed his eyes to wander to the ceiling. His stare narrowed as he breathed slow. Stu chewed and watched the rise and fall of Billy’s chest.

“What’s up, Billy?” Stu finally said.

“It’s time.” Billy sliced his eyes to Stu.

“Time for what?” Stu’s mouth drooped in a tight arch.

“We pulled it off with Maureen.” Billy sat up as he spoke. Her name in his mouth brought her fearful eyes into his mind and calmed him. “Cotton is getting the gas chamber. But that was just the prequel. That was just setting the stage for the real story.”

Stu watched Billy’s face, the way the words changed him. Billy’s tone deepened; his voice slickened. Stu glimpsed something mesmerizing behind his eyes. Stu wanted to say whatever would capture that glint and call it back to Billy’s surface.

“They’ll never see it coming.” Stu gleamed, searching Billy’s eyes. “We’ll show them, just like you said, Billy.”

The twinkle did return to Billy’s eye as a rare smile spread across his lips. As convincing as Billy’s many liar’s grins were, Stu could recognize the genuine expression on Billy’s face, the expression Stu always strove to conjure in his friend.

“I know where we’re going in the last reel, the splatter showdown, the final body count.” Stu spoke to avoid staring at Billy too long. “Who are our opening scene deaths?”

Alicia Silverstone squealed from the television. Billy’s levity dissolved, replaced by his familiar scowl. He squinted at the screen.

“What about an annoying blonde?” Billy growled.

Stu slumped over on his hand, his mouth hanging open as he regarded Alicia. “Maybe I have a thing for blondes. Casey was a blonde too.”

Billy’s face elongated thoughtfully. “Casey Becker.”

“Yeah, I can’t even watch A Nightmare on Elm Street without thinking about her perky little tits.”

“She dumped you for that prick, Steve.”

Stu went rigid and pointed at Billy. “Don’t tell Tatum that. As far as she is concerned, I dumped Casey for her.”

A cruel grin slithered across Billy’s cheeks. “Tatum will never find out if we kill them both.”

Stu stuck his tongue out with a delighted laugh. “Oh! Oh!” Stu shouted, his eyes going wild. “I forgot to show you.”

Billy leaned away as Stu shot to his feet and darted from the room. He wrinkled his nose at Clueless again as he waited for Stu’s return. Stu came stomping back in, his long feet slapping the hardwood. He thrust a plastic package at Billy.

“Check it out, man,” Stu said, his words riding his excitement.

Billy regarded the bag, tipping it in his grip. The masked figure loomed ghastly in the picture, suggesting the costume contained within. The long white face seemed to stare back into him.

“Father Death,” Billy read from the packaging.

“I saw it down at K-Mart. Just had to pick it up.”

“Full body coverage, gloves….”

“I wouldn’t want to run into the mask in a dark alley.”

“It’s no human skin, but it is definitely more effective than a hockey mask and more menacing than the stretched-out Myers face. This looks like it could be the face of death.”

“It looks like a scream,” Stu cackled.

“We’ll pick up a few. From a couple different stores.”

The conversation fell momentarily quiet. Billy set Father Death beside him on the couch. Stu shifted uncomfortable on the couch, looking between Billy and the television.

“So, man, I know you kind of let me pick Maureen…”

Billy snatched the chuckle before it climbed his throat. He kept his face slack. Sure, I did. “Yeah?”

“Um.” Stu wrung his long fingers together. “What does that mean for Sidney, man?”

Billy licked his lips calmly and turned to Stu. “They all go, Stu. They all die. And Sidney… Sidney is at the center.”

“Won’t that draw a lot of attention to you?”

“It would. If I wasn’t also a victim.” A sinister leer consumed Billy’s face. “And if you weren’t also a victim. But if we are just lucky survivors, they won’t suspect us.”

“Genius, man. So, who is our killer?”

Billy’s grin managed to spread farther. “Sidney’s father.”

“What?” Stu released a squealing laugh and nearly launched from the couch cushion.

“Poetic, isn’t it?” Billy leaned forward on his knees.

“I mean, you did say Sid was the center, but that makes her the epicenter.”

“The way I figure, Sid’s father snaps. Maureen’s anniversary sets him off.”

“So, he goes on a rampage, killing everyone.” Stu’s eyes twinkled as he nodded.

“Including Sidney.”

“Oh! Oh!” Stu bounced on his cushion. “You know how he should end it? You know how he should end it?”

“How?” Billy tilted his head slow.

“After he kills Sid, he should shoot himself.” Stu raised his eyebrows, awaiting his reaction.

“Perfect ending.”

Stu’s face exploded in a grin. “It’s genius, man. Genius.” Stu stroked his chin. “How do we get left for dead? How do we pass for survivors?”

The vicious grin surfaced on Billy’s cheeks again. “We’re going to have to bleed a little.”

Stu furrowed his brow. “Like fake blood?”

“Fake blood wouldn’t convince even our moron cops. We’re going to have to actually get stabbed.”

Stu grimaced and recoiled from Billy a degree.

“Don’t worry,” Billy said. “We’ll stick to the side, avoid any vital organs, and we won’t go too deep. It will look like a good attempted murder.”

Stu swallowed hard and nodded.

“But to convince the other victims we’re not the killers, we’re going to fake it too,” Billy continued.

Stu lifted his head. “You’ve thought of everything, Billy.”

Billy’s lips turned up, and he planted his hands on his knees. “Did you get those things I told you to?”

“Yeah, man. I got everything on the list. What’s it all for?”

“Fake blood.”

Billy stood from the couch and moved toward the kitchen without waiting for Stu. Stu followed, taking one last glimpse over his shoulder at Alicia Silverstone before leaving her babbling to the empty couches. Billy rounded the kitchen island and placed his hands on the counter in wait. Stu hurried to the closet and retrieved the grocery bag.

“This all makes way more sense now, man. It seemed like a very random list,” Stu laughed.

But Stu had gotten the items as instructed, without question. He had followed orders, just as Billy needed him to.

Stu presented the bag to Billy, raising his eyebrows and awaiting approval. Billy offered a fixed stare. His hands remained stuck to the counter. Stu animated and unloaded the ingredients.

“Corn syrup.” Stu placed the bottle on the counter in front of Billy. “Corn starch. Red, yellow, and blue food coloring.”

Billy surveyed the ingredients before finally letting an approving smirk hint on his lips. “Everything you need to make pig’s blood. Or, in this case, our blood.” The smirk branched into a malicious grin. “Chocolate syrup would have been easier, but we couldn’t risk that someone would smell it. Plus, that shit is so sticky.”

Billy placed his hands on the corn syrup and turned his eyes to Stu. Stu stared back at him for a moment before startling.

“Oh.” Stu dove into a cabinet and retrieved a large, yellow plastic bowl. Then he snatched a couple spoons from a drawer.

“You get the water balloons and the funnel?”

“Shit. Yeah, man. They’re in the other bag.” Stu whirled around and returned to the closet.

Billy poured the corn syrup into the bowl then began sprinkling in the corn starch. He stirred briskly to mix the two together. Stu leaned in close to watch over his shoulder. Billy dripped red food coloring in the first. The splatters spread in the liquid, drawing bizarre patterns. He blended them in until the mixture turned red.

“Too red,” Billy mumbled.

“Yeah, don’t want it looking Giallo.”

Billy traded the red for the yellow and green, squeezing in a couple drops of each. He tilted his head as he stirred it all together as the red mixture deepened in the bowl.

“Getting closer.” Billy dipped his finger in and sucked it clean. He pursed his lips and bobbed his head. “Not terrible. Chocolate would have tasted better. In Friday the 13th, they used photo developer, but that shit is so poisonous.”

“And not just at the general store,” Stu laughed.

“Right.” Billy loosed a couple more drips and stirred before nodding at his efforts. Billy dipped another finger and smeared it along Stu’s face then nodded firmer. “Balloons.”

“Okay.” Stu tore open the plastic bag and fished out a red balloon. “So, remind me. Is this my blood or your blood?”

“Ideally, mine. I want you to kill me in front of Sidney. Break her heart before I put a knife in it.” Billy stared straight into Stu until Stu’s eyes wavered away. “But we’ll fill a few balloons and see how things play out. People can be… unpredictable.”

Stu stuffed the funnel into the balloon, and Billy poured the blood in until it blossomed. Once the bulb of fake blood trembled, Billy slipped it from the funnel and tied it off. He squeezed the balloon, feeling the blood resist the pressure. Then Billy cradled the balloon in front of him.

“So, I come at you like this.” Stu pantomimed a knife, stabbing it into the blood balloon.

“The balloon bursts. Blood everywhere.”

“Sidney or anyone else will be too scared to scrutinize.”

“I fall dead, and you go kill them. Then I reemerge for the final act.”

“They’ll never see it coming!” Stu lifted the balloon from Billy’s grasp and lifted it in front of his face.

“That’s because it’s never been done before.”

Continued on… Father Death (7)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (4)

4

Terror transformed Maureen’s features. When she opened her mouth in a scream, Billy noticed how much Sidney did look like her mother, that same wide mouth of straight, white teeth. He would make Sidney scream for different reasons.

Billy ignored Maureen’s flow of exclamations and demands. He fixated on her delicious fear and stomped toward her, hearing Stu shuffle in behind him. The perpetual and uncomfortable rage that seethed in him dissipated throughout and settled in his muscles to orchestrate his movements.

Maureen, clad in a satin robe, scrambled around the bed. In desperation, she chucked pillows and a lamp in the direction of her attackers. Billy pursued her as Stu climbed on the bed, casting a malicious grin as he bounced like a child. Tears streamed down Maureen’s cheeks.

“Billy, why?” Maureen asked, her voice quivering in her cries.

Billy invaded her space and cornered her against the wall. He pressed his body against hers to feel her tremble.

“Shhhhhh,” Billy breathed.

He lifted the knife and used the blade to move the hair out of Maureen’s face. Maureen only reddened and cried harder.

“What about Sidney?” Maureen protested.

Billy snatched Maureen around the throat and threw them both toward the bed. Stu leaped out of the way before Billy fell on top of Maureen on the mattress. They flopped together, Maureen grunting in pain. Billy shifted to pin her down with his weight and raised the knife. He waited with the blade suspended until she could see it. He looked for its gleaming reflection in her eye and the knowing fear in her face before he plunged it into her belly, low. Not at low as he wanted but close enough.

It felt natural to stab into her, to take what he wanted. The primal sound that sputtered from her lips resonated somewhere deep within Billy. It spurned him to rip the knife from her flesh and thrust it into her again. And again, splattering blood all over Cotton Weary’s coat.

Somewhere in the flurry, Billy remembered himself. He caught his arm before the knife could penetrate Maureen again and raised his blood-stained face to Stu. He felt the smile on his own cheeks. Maureen moaned and writhed beneath him, but he pushed back off of her.

Stu looked between Billy and Maureen’s bloody body. Then he lingered in Billy’s stare before diving forward. Maureen moved to claw along the bed. She took fistfuls of the bedspread in her hands and attempted to drag herself along the mattress. Stu snatched her shoulder and flipped her back over. He looked over his shoulder, searched for Billy’s approval before bringing his own knife into Maureen.

His first puncture was tentative, but when Billy smiled, he gained vigor. By the fifth, Maureen released the bedspread. Billy clapped a hand on Stu’s shoulder and leaned against him.

“Go grab the bag,” Billy said.

Stu nodded and offered Billy his knife. Billy took it and watched Stu leave the room. Once Stu was out of sight, Billy turned his eyes down to Maureen.

Maureen’s chest lifted and fell weakly. Billy found her eyes burrowing into him. He mounted the bed to straddle her and leaned down slow. He put his lips against her ear and heard her breathing hesitate.

“This is for my mom, you whore,” he said.

Billy sat up and sank the knife into Maureen’s throat. Her eyes went wide as the blood poured from her neck and covered the bed. Stu returned as Billy yanked the blade from her body.

“10:37, man,” Stu said, shifting his weight from side to side and clutching the bag. “Sid could be here any minute.”

Billy reached into the bag and retrieved the garbage bag. He placed both knives in the bag then slipped them into the duffle.

“Change and get to the car,” Billy ordered. “Cotton went to Steiner’s Tavern after last time. Meet me at the bottom of the hill, and we’ll plant the coat.”

Stu nodded, fingers still wriggling. Then he was gone.

Billy stood over Maureen one last time. She lay splayed on her back, her hands bloodied and haphazard above her head. The vacancy in her eyes soothed something in him, calmed that writhing anger. He reached down and tore her robe open, suggestively positioned her legs, set the scene. Then he breathed in the moment, the smell of her death, before hurrying down the stairs.

He lingered by the front window, waiting for Sidney. His chest clenched when Tatum’s red Beetle finally rolled into view. The thrill at the plan coming together, at all the pieces falling into his planned places. He could hear the girls’ muffled voices as Sidney got out of the car and said goodbye. She stood under the garish light and swept her hair behind her ear.

Billy would always see how much she looked like her mother now.

Sidney approached the door, carefree and smiling. Billy imprinted that Sidney on his mind, snapped it into his memory with the full knowledge that he was about to shatter her, destroy this version of Sidney in an irreparable way.

Then he would be there to comfort her, fuck her back to normal when she was ready. They could mourn the loss of their mothers together.

The front doorknob turned, and Billy hurried across the house. He scooted through the sliding glass door and waited with the door suspended.

“Mom,” Sidney called, discarding her keys and light coat. “Mom, I’m home.”

Billy shut the door loud enough for Sidney to hear and walked in deliberate steps away from the house. He shoved his hands in Cotton’s pockets and tilted his head down, displaying a familiar haircut. He made sure to say in the light, walk slow and in view.

As he slipped into the shadows, he could feel Sidney see him. He did not even need to look back. He knew he had done it.

Continued on… Father Death (6)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (2)

2

Sidney’s hand lingered in Billy’s as they exited the movie theater. Billy felt her pulse faint as it throbbed in the digits. She walked close to him. The feeling of her body brushing against him with each step licked an excitement along Billy’s nerves. Excitement that baited the anticipation for the rest of the evening.

“What did you think?” Billy asked, squeezing Sidney’s hand and tugging her closer.

Sidney grimaced then flashed a dazzling smile, covering her teeth with her other hand as she giggled.

“You didn’t like it?” Billy leaned toward her.

Sidney laughed again. “It was so weird. And gross.”

Billy smiled back and swiped his fingers over his chin. “I supposed you haven’t seen the other Texas Chainsaw movies. You didn’t see much of this one since you kept covering your eyes.”

“I saw him crush a head with his mechanical leg! That was enough.”

Billy stopped walking and drew Sidney into him. He wrapped his arms around her and brought his lips to hers. Sidney responded and kissed him back. She parted her lips gently to allow him to slip his tongue into her mouth. Tasting her, Billy’s kiss grew deeper as he gripped at Sidney. Sidney withdrew with a playful laugh and planted her hands on Billy’s shoulders. When she disconnected from him, she glanced around to see if anyone was watching them.

“What time do you need to be home?” Billy breathed into her hair.

“My mom is expecting me at eleven.”

“Your dad is gone again?”

Sidney nodded.

“Another work trip?”

Sidney nodded again.

“Then we have some time.”

Billy hooked his arm around Sidney’s shoulder and brought his mouth to her neck. She cried out yet circled her arm around his waist as they walked to his car.

Billy opened the passenger’s door for Sidney. After she eased in, he closed the door behind her. With Sidney encased in his vehicle, a swell of excitement tickled along his nerves again. It tangled with the rage consistently smoldering in his chest.

He wanted Sidney. He wanted to take it out on Sidney.

He stopped for a moment and pressed his palm into the cool metal of the car. He closed his eyes to feel his feet against the pavement, the night air on his cheeks. When his heart climbed out of his throat, he hurried around the bumper and dropped into the driver’s seat.

Billy navigated the narrow, darkened streets. He drove them up a winding road past Sidney’s house to a small overlook on the hill. He parked and turned off the engine, turning to Sidney.

“What do you expect to happen here, stud bucket?” Sidney laughed.

“I wouldn’t dream of taking your virginity in a car, Sid.” Billy glanced down in his lap then brought serious eyes up to Sidney. “But we can still have some fun.”

Sidney looked at Billy through the fringe of her bangs. A sly smile crept across her lips as pink warmed her cheeks. Billy’s grin turned predatory as his hands slid to either side of Sidney’s face and pulled her into him.

Billy pressed hungry lips into Sidney’s, opening his mouth immediately. As he inhaled her breath, he guided her back in her seat and reached around to pull the lever beside the door. He kept his lips moving against hers as he shoved his feet into her floorboards and lay his body along hers. Sidney emitted a surprised giggle yet welcomed him with her hands firm against his back.

Billy’s heart pounded in a focused rhythm. The nerves on his skin arched toward Sidney’s heat, the feeling of her below him. He felt the frantic need to push her, to take her rising from beneath his constant rage. He exhaled steadily through his nose against her face to steady himself. He concentrated on moving his hands over her body and feeling how she reacted to his touch.

She wanted him. She wasn’t leaving. She wasn’t saying no.

Billy slid his hands into Sidney’s shirt, moving his fingers along the warm skin of her stomach. Her belly undulated at his touch. He moved his mouth to her neck as one hand wandered up to toy at the lace of her bra while the other descended to tug at her jeans. A low gasp escaped Sidney’s mouth as her head fell back.

Billy waited a breath for her objection. Then he loosed the button and struggled her zipper down, willing the frenzy out of his fingers. His hips fell into an unconscious rhythm as he moved his mouth back to hers, and he pushed his hand into her pants.

“Billy,” Sidney said.

Billy moaned soft in response and pressed his hand against her.

“Billy!” Sidney pressed her hands into his shoulders in a slight shove.

Billy retracted his hand and snapped his head up. His muddled mind screeched to a halt as the heat on his skin broiled differently. He glared up at Sidney.

“It’s 10:55,” she giggled.

Billy whirled around to the clock on the dashboard, the anger throbbing in his temples. The numbers mocked him in their glow. He dropped his head to Sidney’s chest in a pitiful whimper. She laughed and slid her hands into his hair, kissing his head.

“Hurry,” she said into his hair. “You have to get me home to make curfew.”

Billy groaned again. “You’ll be the death of me,” he said, shifting over the center console and back into the driver’s seat.

Sidney reached over and took his hand as he followed the winding road back to her house. Billy’s skin flinched away from her touch, wanting to coil down into his rage. She was choosing to go home over him. Yet he breathed and plastered the smoldering smile on his face. He packed all his desire to fuck her into an understanding grin.

Billy rolled the car to a stop in front of Sidney’s house, the massive structure and immaculate lawn emblazoned by the excessive exterior lighting. Sidney disengaged her seatbelt and tilted her chin, regarding Billy through her bangs. Billy reflected the sultry smile she offered. As Sidney leaned in, he wrapped around her and looked over her shoulder to watch a figure slip from the front door of the house.

Billy watched the man casually and confidently stride across the front porch and vault over the side rail. He landed effortlessly in the grass and took brisk strides over the grass, hustling to his car, which must have been parked unassumingly down the street.

Billy recognized the man immediately: Cotton Weary.

Cotton Weary, who owned the hardware store. Everyone knew him. Everyone recognized him. Maureen probably met him and initiated their affair by buying light bulbs or nails while her husband was on the road yet again.

Cotton’s slicked-back hair curled at the ends right above the collar of his coat. He tugged and adjusted the coat as he jogged.

Joy snatched him so quickly that he nearly squeezed Sidney. He had to temper his grin before Sidney slid from their embrace to bring her face to his. He kissed her hard and deep with all the passion of how everything was falling perfectly into place.

“I had fun tonight,” Sidney said, pulling back to her seat and reaching for the door handle.

“Oh yeah?” Billy smirked. “Exploding heads and blue balls.”

“Hey, maybe that’s what they’ll call the sequel.”

Sidney laughed and flashed her wide smile to Billy once more before exiting the car and moving to the house. She offered one more wave before disappearing inside. Billy’s grin remained as he steered the car back onto the dark street.

“Stu, are you even listening to me?” Tatum Riley shot up from the couch cushion and whirled toward Stu.

“Of course, I am.” Stu reached forward and gathered Tatum under his arm. “This movie is just really funny, and my brain can only process so much Major Payne yelling and you talking at the same time.”

Tatum glared at Stu but settled against him, turning her eyes back to the screen.

“Randy tried to get me to take A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I went straight for the New Releases,” Stu said.

“No. No splatter movie shit.”

“See, I knew that.” Stu reached down and tipped Tatum’s chin up to kiss her.

“If you had brought home Nightmare, you definitely would not have been getting any nookie.”

“Wait, I’m getting nookie?” Stu straightened and turned to Tatum.

Tatum laughed and hooked her nail on her bottom teeth.

“Stu Macher! We have been dating for like five minutes. How easy do you think I am?”

“I was hoping for pretty easy.” Stu shrugged.

Tatum shrieked and slapped Stu’s shoulder. Stu wrapped his long arms around her and wrestled her back against the cushions. As they tussled, the credits began to roll over the screen.

“That’s my cue,” Tatum sang, unearthing herself from beneath Stu and standing.

Stu snagged her hand and tilted his gaze up at her from the cushion. “You don’t have to go. My folks aren’t home.”

“Are you folks ever home?”

Tatum smirked as she bent down to kiss Stu goodbye. Then she bounced out the front door to her red Beetle.

Billy watched her leave the house and drive away before pulling his own car in front of Stu’s house and climbing out. Billy entered the house without knocking, knowing Stu’s parents were away, as always. He found Stu where Tatum had left him, ejecting the tape without kindly rewinding Major Payne. Stu figured that was Randy’s job.

Billy loomed behind the couch, watching Stu’s unsuspecting back until Stu finally turned around and noticed him. Stu startled at first. Then his face brightened at seeing Billy.

“Hey, man.” Stu attempted to smile coolly, rising from his knees.

Billy could not contain his grin.

“What are you so happy about? Sid finally give it up?”

Billy’s face fell slack before recovering. “Better.”

Stu slid onto the couch cushion in front of Billy. “What’s better than that?”

“I found our fall guy.”

Continued on… Father Death (4)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (1)

1995

1

“We’re doing this. We’re really doing this,” Stu exclaimed through clenched teeth.

Billy strode in measured strides while Stu bounced and leaped beside him. Billy cast his eyes to the side to acknowledge Stu yet continued walking. Billy kept his breath steady to control his heart rate and the heat brewing below his skin. He tensed his muscles to maintain a nonchalant and placid exterior while he roiled beneath the surface.

“How do we choose someone?” Stu pressed, sweat gleaming along his forehead.

Stu’s voice agitated Billy and undermined his control, yet Stu was necessary. Billy pinched his molars together and held fast. He pulled his breaths deeper into his lungs.

Billy traced the perimeter of the town’s square until the sidewalk led them to the white gazebo perched on manicured grass. He turned to lean against the structure and looked back at the pedestrians moving down the street. Stu wrinkled his face at Billy, whirling to the mundane street traffic and back, searching for the answer.

“One of them?” Stu hissed, leaning into Billy’s ear.

Billy chuckled and smirked. He remained against the gazebo, allowing Stu to twirl beside him.

“What about Randy?” Stu suggested. “That prick drives us both crazy.”

Billy pursed his lips, considering.

“Plus, he loves your woman.”

Billy snapped harsh eyes up to Stu, and Stu looked away, wiping his hands on his jeans.

“Randy is too close,” Billy replied. “It can’t be someone we know that well. Too easy to be linked to us.”
“It’s not a very big town. We kind of know everyone.”

Billy glared at Stu until Stu shrugged. They both turned their eyes back to the sidewalk. Sheriff Burke and Deputy Dewey Riley stepped out of the Police Station. Sheriff Burke marched to his Jeep while Dewey chased his steps, asking a flow of questions Billy and Stu could not hear.

“I doubt we have to worry about them,” Billy chuckled softly.

“Ha! Not at all, man.”

The sun glinted off the Post Office door, flickering at the boys. Billy craned his neck to watch Maureen Prescott burst out into the sunshine. His body tensed at the sight of her, and he stopped breathing. He monitored Stu in his peripherals to ensure Stu did not register his reaction. Maureen’s dark, wavy hair flowed behind her as she strutted down the street. Her striped shirt left one too many buttons loosed, exposing her bare chest.

There she was: the bitch who had ruined his life. The coals of his anger blazed into flames inside his chest. The sweat prickled along his brow at the heat wafting inside him. He shuddered in his façade.

“Oh, look, there’s Sidney’s mom.” Stu planted his arm above Billy’s head and brought his mouth toward Billy’s ear, jutting his chin toward Maureen.

The boys watched as Maureen encountered Principal Himbry on the street. The two began talking, and Maureen reached out to touch Himbry’s forearm. She tipped her head back and laughed as she did. Then she passed a hand through her hair. Billy flexed his jaw until his teeth ground together to control himself.

“She’s at it again,” Stu said.

Billy licked his lips and pursed them tight, crossing his arms over his chest to bundle himself in his own containment. The rage roiled in his chest, tingled down his arms. Yet he waited. He glared at Stu in anticipation. Stu stared stupidly at Maureen for long and painful moments.

He needed Stu to pick her. It had to be her, but Stu needed to say it. Billy could not glance in Maureen’s direction without the nauseating anger strangling him, but he could not let Stu see that. Stu had to see nonchalance. Stu had to see Maureen as the perfect random choice.

Finally, Stu’s face exploded with inspiration. He turned his eyes back to Billy wide enough to burst. Billy released a small, relieved breath.

“Her!” Stu exclaimed, consumed by the entire word, embodied by the idea.

Stu snapped his neck between Billy coolly against the gazebo post and Maureen still caressing Himbry’s arm.

“Maureen Prescott?” Billy tempered his voice.

“Yeah,” Stu whispered, close and conspiratorial again. “I mean, look at her, man. We would be doing her a favor.”

“And every wife in town,” Billy scoffed.

“Exactly!”

Continued on… Father Death (3)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies